- Hardcover: 544 pages
- Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.; 1st Edition edition (May 15, 2018)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9781627794244
- ISBN-13: 978-1627794244
- ASIN: 1627794247
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.9 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 197 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,226 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Robin Hardcover – May 15, 2018
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An Amazon Best Book of May 2018: David Itzkoff’s monument of a biography is an intimate and thorough examination of Robin Williams as both man and performer. From his years as a reclusive kid playing up in his attic bedroom, to his early days of standup, to the runaway success of Mork and Mindy, to movies, addiction, recovery, and fame, his need for affirmation was the thread that drew him forward. He sought that affirmation by working tirelessly, and Itzkoff chronicles the actor’s successes and failures, as well as his close friendships in and out of show business, to create a deep psychological portrait. Robin Williams possessed an earnestness and a craving for honesty that made him shine brighter even as it threatened to destroy him. This is a bittersweet read, with highs and lows, but the Robin Williams who emerges is as compelling as his greatest performances. -- Chris Schluep
A New York Times Bestseller
"Dave Itzkoff allows readers a rare intimate look at Robin Williams in this honest and emotional biography of the late entertainer. . . . Robin is a fresh look at a man loved by many but truly understood by few."―Time
"Will make you weep in missing him just as much as you laugh in remembering him."―Entertainment Weekly
"Immersive, intimate and incredibly detailed. . . . A revealing, warts-and-all portrait of a man of great talent trying to design a career and a life while being buffeted around by a cacophony of contradictory voices and impulses. . . . The result of exhaustive research and fan-like devotion."―Merrill Markoe, Washington Post
"A breathtakingly good biography, exhilarating a lot of the time, yet disturbing, too, and one of the best books ever written about anyone who sees no way out of life except by trying to make people laugh. Or is it weeping? Who can tell in a storm?"―David Thomson, San Francisco Chronicle
"A generous, appreciative biography of Robin Williams by a New York Times culture reporter. The author, who had access to Williams and members of the comedian’s family, is an unabashed fan but doesn’t shy away from the abundant messiness in his subject’s personal life."―The New York Times Book Review (editor's choice)
"Terrific. . . . Itzkoff captures the ebb and flow of Williams’s career beautifully, with respect and with honesty. . . . [Here is] a life that was both miraculous and troubled, told in an artfully shaped, fact-filled book that honors the truth of his life."―Boston Globe
"The biography we've been waiting for. . . . [A] meaty, well-researched, moving story of a man who could never quite come to terms with his own brilliance."―Booklist
“This well-written page-turner is the definitive biography of the genius of Robin Williams, whose life redefines the highs and lows of the American dream.”―Steve Martin
“[A] page-turner. . . . [Itzkoff keeps] us clued into so many aspects of Williams’ life, with finesse and foreboding, but no showy sentiment. His writing is simply imbued with Williams’ special intimate connection.”―Newsday
"[Williams'] life was one of compulsive creativity and genuine kindness and perpetual insecurity and frequent infidelity and uniquely electric imagination. Dave Itzkoff’s biography 'Robin' gets its hands around as much of that life as possible. It's an incisive, comprehensive, very fine book. . . and the author captures it with grace and evenhanded perception."―Chicago Tribune
"Reveals the heart and soul of an icon."―Christian Science Monitor
“In Robin, Dave Itzkoff manages to straddle the man and the myth of Robin Williams, all the while helping us see why we fell in love with both. He has written a book about the truth and pain that lies in comedy, and the price paid by a sensitive soul.”―Amy Poehler
"[A] really great book - a living chronicle & secret history of 50 years of American pop culture - and you should pick it up!"―Colson Whitehead, Pulitzer Prize- and National Book Award-winning author of The Underground Railroad
“Dave Itzkoff’s Robin is much like the man himself―warm, funny, frenetic, with a core of darkness and empathy. It gets at that darkness, and shows how it fueled, beautifully, the manic brain and kinetic body of the man himself. An amazing read."―Patton Oswalt
"Thoughtful and devoted. . . .a must-read."―Harper's Bazaar
"This book should be on everyone's summer reading list. It's certainly on mine."―James Corden
"Many who never knew [Robin Williams] were hit hard by the loss ― how could someone so dizzyingly funny encompass such darkness? Dave Itzkoff’s well-researched, thoughtful biography fills in some of those shadows. . . . Itzkoff, a New York Times reporter, writes with a clear-eyed fondness for his subject (including a moving epilogue in which he discusses his personal encounters with Williams)."―Seattle Times
"Captures the magic and the sadness of Robin Williams' life ... a well-researched and solidly written biography."―Dallas Morning News
"A revealing portrait of the motivations of a quiet comic genius whose explosive persona moved millions."―Kirkus
"Meticulously sourced and comprehensive in scope, Itzkoff's work gives Williams's many fans a rare glimpse of the man behind the celebrity."―Publishers Weekly
“This is the complete portrait of Robin Williams, from the boyhood inception of his genius to the complexity of his death. Williams may well be one of those people who are impossible to fully understand, but this book is as close as anyone will ever come.”―Chuck Klosterman, author of But What If We’re Wrong?
“Dave Itzkoff has produced a remarkable and empathetic portrait, packed with satisfying detail, of a comic whirligig who could break your heart. He reveals Robin Williams the man with clarity and poignancy.”―Julie Salamon, author of The Devil’s Candy and Wendy and the Lost Boys
“For someone who often seemed to wear his heart on his sleeve, Robin Williams was also surprisingly elusive. In his probing and compassionate biography, Dave Itzkoff does justice to both the blazing light and the dark corners in his work and life. Robin is deeply reported, finely attuned to the ebb and flow of a long and singular career, and ultimately very moving.”―Mark Harris, author of Pictures at a Revolution and Five Came Back
“Everyone Dave Itzkoff interviewed for his account of Robin Williams’s life and career seems unsure if they fully knew who Williams was and why he did all the things he did, but Itzkoff pieces him together in his entirety. This engrossing book paints a stunningly complete picture of both the man and the comedian. A triumph, and a tragedy."―Alan Sepinwall, coauthor of TV (The Book) and author of The Revolution Was Televised
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This exhaustively researched book,written by NY Times reporter Dave Itzkoff, delves into every aspect of Williams's life, from his lonely but privileged childhood, to his early successes and his later uneven career in films, to his demons, philandering and substance abuse and finally his gut-wrenching suicide after developing Lewy body dementia.
In the public eye, Williams was larger than life, but in private he was an insecure little boy, desperate for adulation and attention and willing to do almost anything to get it. His judgment was often flawed, whether cheating on his wives, choosing to make movies that were duds, or descending into addiction at the expense of his family. At the same time, he was brilliant at stand-up and in the right roles, unforgettable on the big screen ("Good Morning, Vietnam," "Dead Poets Society," "Mrs. Doubtfire," and Good Will Hunting," for which he finally won an Academy Award).His career was in decline when he died, but, oh, the legacy he left!
Robin is a behemoth of a book--439 pages of text, several more selected work and awards, and over 50 pages of notes.sourcing pretty much everything in the book. (The acknowledgements give you an idea of just how many interviews and how much research was required to produce it/) This is, as the cover copy declares, the definitive biography of Williams, warts and all, and in its own way, it's as unforgettable as its subject.
Takeaways: The son of a well-to-do executive who had two older half-siblings who did not live with him growing up, Robin had a somewhat isolated youth, especially as his family frequently moved (although he apparently had no problems making friends). After the family moved to California while Robin was a teenager, he found himself exposed to a much more liberal environment in school. Here he also began to consider becoming an actor, a career that his father was not thrilled about - at least not unless his son came up with a practical fallback. Because of this, as Itzhoff notes, Robin saw the concept of "family" and "home" as fluid - it could be wherever you chose to make it. Like many artists, Robin also struggled at times with mood swings, substance abuse, insecurity and envy, although he took steps throughout his life to seek help and generally did not let personal resentment stand in the way of supporting other comics and actors. As "Robin" also meticulously traces the ups and downs of Robin's acting career, which was a decidedly rocky road, it likely won't seem surprising to the reader that the subject struggled to overcome these obstacles. Finally, "Robin" takes a look at the actor's fatal illness which would be posthumously diagnosed as Lewy's body dementia, and the final days leading up to his death. Overall: "Robin" is a well-researched (sometimes a bit too extensive) portrayal of a complex man who changed many lives for the merrier and from whose example to seize the day (like his "Dead Poets Society" character),we could all do well to follow.
At 440 pages, the book is more an overview than a deeply in-depth work such as James Kaplan's two-volume biography about Frank Sinatra. I'd imagine that if anyone were to undertake such an exercise about Mr. Williams, a decade or so will have had to pass for a less misty-eyed evaluation. It is understandable. Mr. Itzkoff's portrayal shows the life of a true artist who, as his first wife states, was a stimulus junkie and a brilliant gentle soul. There is a lot to admire about the late Robin Williams and some aspects that are more sad than accusatory. His genius was unique but seemed to come along with some less than desirable traits of self-destruction. The biography covers such topics as his peripatetic childhood, comedy clubs, his rapid rise to stardom, methods behind his improvisation, his three marriages, the various reactions by critics to many of his movies, some details about the creation of his more successful films, the accusations of plagiarism, his relationship with famous friends like Billy Crystal, John Belushi, Christopher Reeves, and Richard Pryor, Comic Relief, becoming a parent, his idol Jonathan Winters, his philanthropy, and the creation of 'Mork & Mindy.' Mr. Williams's more destructive actions such as drug use and infidelities are touched upon but the author mostly avoids giving salacious details. The last thirty-five pages linger upon the reactions of Robin Williams's suicide, the diagnosis of Lewy body dementia, and the conflicts over his estate by his third wife and the Williams children.
There is a great deal within 'Robin' that was news to me. Mr. Itzhoff has a nice clear writing style which made the book an enjoyable read. However, while the comic had his ups and downs, the last third of the biography becomes more and more melancholy. If the reader is anything like me, you will come away from 'Robin' with an appreciation of his genius and compassion as well as sad about his less admirable qualities. The humble artist was truly in a league of his own.