Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 24 Oct 2018

Member Reviews

Dave Itzkoff is one of the best celebrity biographers. He presents Williams as a quiet introvert who was far too adept at being what others wanted to be, meanwhile struggling to find himself in the process. When it comes to Williams' final days Itzkoff creates a heartbreaking tale, deconstructing Williams' disorder and giving us facts in a landscape of exaggeration and half-truths. A definitive read for fans of Robin Williams!
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I absolutely loved this book! Itzkoff writes in a very engaging. Interesting and well researched way. Robin's story is one that is filled with the ups and downs of a Hollywood life, but he is shown here as also being incredibly human. His story is one that will stay with me. Would highly recommend!
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Robin is a biography about the late, great Robin Williams.  While I enjoyed Robin and his work, I didn't really know too much about him otherwise.  The book begins with how he grew up and how he always found ways to make his Mom laugh.  Robin ended up lonely because his Mom would often travel with his father, leaving Robin alone.  He was always very modest and didn't believe that he was worthy of the fame.

It talked about his early days in comedy and how he wouldn't stay on the stage with the mic, he would sometimes go out in to the crowd and was able to project his voice enough to let the audience hear him and keep their attention.

There are chapters devoted to some of his more successful and major movie roles as well as details of some of the awards he won - and how in 2005 he won an award and essentially announced that he was drinking again.

At the end of the book is a selected variety of the movies and other works he performed in as well as some of the awards he won.  Simply an amazing mind gone far too soon.

I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review, I was not otherwise compensated. This book was released May 15, 2018 from Henry Holt & Company.
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This is a bittersweet biography; the author portrays Robin Williams, not as a tormented soul who ends his own life, but more as a tender man desperate for talent validation.  Thoroughly enjoyable book.
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Firstly, I would like to thank the publisher for allowing this book to be given out to librarians and others alike to review. It has been four years know since the passing of Robin and it still sits heavily on my mind. I wasn't sure what to think of Robin's story written by someone other than Robin; how do you trust the life story of someone told through a voice other than their own? Yet, I feel Itzkoff told us so much more than I was expecting. This wasn't just the story of Robin the actor, but also of the father, the husband, the man, the human being. I cried, I laughed, I learned and I mourned all over again. I also will admit that I actually ended up listening to this partially through audio book and it helped process this book much easier. To hear someone say Itzkoff's words made it easier to read certain parts of Robin's life. Thank you, Mr. Itzkoff. I still miss Robin and I think I always will. But it was nice to remember him.
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My first thought was oh, my gosh this is so much longer than the books I've been reading lately. A few chapters in, I thought now I know why and yet I'm learning nothing about what made him, "him".

Then we got rolling and it was akin to looking back at a yearbook. Many of us grew up with him, Mork and Mindy, Popeye, sneaking in those standup records, tv spots, and videos when our parents weren't watching and we saw him evolve into movies, first comedies and then the more serious, sometimes with success and sometimes...not so much.

The book doesn't and I don't think a book could explain where he got his comedic magic from and certainly not how he kept it up during those times that he was clean and sober. It's not a fault with the book, just a warning for the reader if you, like me were hoping to be able to connect the dots. Nope.

As an alcoholic, the hardest and also most relatable portions of the book for me are the times that he is off the wagon, getting on the wagon, or has fallen so far off the wagon that his family and friends are searching the tumbleweeds for him. Fear and always feeling the need to be the center of attention are just two of the horrible monkeys one can have on your back. 

Still, he made it through with some bruises until the last couple years when his health mysteriously failed. As Itzkoff makes clear, Williams major bugaboo was fear and Parkinson's or what we later found out was Lewy Body Dementia is flipping terrifying for anyone. Addicts, especially addicts trying not to use, don't deal with unknown and terrifying well at all and when you throw in dementia and the occasional loss of control of your own body, my heart goes out to him and his family.
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Overall this book failed for me largely because it was missing the warmth and charm of the real Robin Williams. Much too much time was spent on his childhood and younger years, going so far as to have quotes from a 5th (?) grade "girlfriend" that did not really know him at all. I fail to see how inclusions such as this help us understand the man he was. (There were many such inclusions.)

The book felt like the author collected as many facts as he could about the man and included them ALL, editing be damned. But he ultimately failed to unveil the man within and without the facts. Are we all just composed of facts? That fails to view the person as a whole and it was obvious that the essence minus facts was missing in this one. 

I also grew tired of the examination of Williams' roles, including plots and reviews and quotes from the movies and do we really need these summaries? They bogged down the narrative and were another element that really needed some editing. 

I did appreciate a clearer idea of Williams' final months. For me and for many others I'm sure, his death came out of nowhere but I can see now that it was clear it was something he had been struggling with for some time.
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The recent sad news that Robin Williams had taken his own life drew me to read this comprehensive account of his life. How such a talented man, so beloved by his multitude of fans, could be so troubled is hard to fathom. Reading this book helped me to understand a bit more about this complicated man, and what motivated him, although its still hard to accept that a man who brought so much happiness to so many people struggled so hard to be happy himself. 
The majority of the book described in detail his life from childhood on. And quite an extraordinary life it was.  He started out as the son of a wealthy family in the outskirts of Detroit, often left alone for long periods to play by himself. During this time, he began developing his skills of imagining different people and scenes and acting them out. 

As his career as a comedian began to take off, he struggled to adapt to continually changing circumstances, harming some of his most important relationships in the process, and fighting against various addictions.  His strong desire to be respected as a serious actor was often frustrated as he made film after film without the accolades he longed for. He was recognized for a few films, but there is a sense that this was not enough and a lifelong disappointment. 

Recommended for fans of Robin Williams, this is a long and comprehensive account of his entire life that will bring you many insights into this unique and talented man. 

Note:  I received an advance copy of the ebook from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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An incredibly compassionate and compelling read, Itzkoff's ROBIN was a tough one for me. I enjoyed it, but losing several incredible and vocal mental health advocates over the last few years has been rough. Itzkoff clearly made good use of a wealth of research and has given what will likely be the defining biograpy of one of America's greatest entertainers.
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I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for my unbiased opinion.

This was a thorough, highly readable biography of Robin Williams.  There are several hundred footnotes to list all the sources Dave Itzkoff used to put together this book.  He did a good job showcasing not just the Robin Williams fans knew but the shy, approval-seeking man friends and family knew.  An outstanding biography of a much-loved actor, anyone who wants to know more about Robin Williams should check out this book.
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I still remember how stunned I was when I heard that Robin Williams had died, and then even more shocked when it came out that he had likely died by hanging himself with a belt. It just seemed such a wretched ending for the beloved comedian who’d brought such a wonderful humor into our lives. It broke my heart and I cried for what he must have been going through. I highly enjoyed this extremely well-researched book on him. 

I feel it did a great job of covering his life including his family and career. He became famous for Mork and Mindy in 1978 when I was 18, so I was quite aware of him and his show and he became one of my favorites comics. This book shares some of what was going on behind the scenes during many important times in his life and career versus what was coming out publicly. 

After his death, I read more about what authorities found and I watched a show that discussed what actually killed him and was found during his autopsy. It seems he’d been misdiagnosed with Parkinsons and he was having all sorts of symptoms and health issues, including the depression he’d been bothered by off and on his whole life at times. I find the book an engrossing read as he was just so private even with those he seemed so close with and most people felt they didn’t really know him well. An advance digital copy was provided by NetGalley, author Dave Itzkoff, and the publisher for my honest review. 

Henry Holt and Co.
Publication date: May 15, 2018.
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Sensitive, compassionate portrayal of Robin Williams.  Input from his friends, particularly Billy Crystal, made for a very humanizing portrait of a larger than life personality.
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Robin Williams was an amazing man. This book captures his essence. It's lengthy, but I wanted to read every word. I'm shocked by how much is in here about Robin. It helped me feel even closer to him than I already was. Growing up watching this fabulous mind was a pleasure and reading this helps since we can no longer enjoy the man that was Robin Williams.

Phenomenal read. Plan to buy just so I can read it again and again.
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This book was kind of hard for me to read. I have seen so many of Robin’s movies and loved his appearance on ‘Happy Days’, and then of course, ‘Mork and Mindy’. It was well researched and gave insight into the life and highs and lows of his life, from childhood all the way to the end of his life. It was definitely a tragedy that he is gone from us all too soon. Highly recommend this book! I received a complimentary copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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Itzkoff puts together the pieces that make up the life of Robin Williams, creating a heartbreaking portrait of a man we loved more than we knew.
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Robin Williams life might look like until his suicide like an ideal life but this book talks about the good and the bad he has had in his life.  Very interesting and very informative I do recommend it.
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"The world frightens me a lot, the world as it exists. This is an action movie, it has a certain type of violence, but I can't do a movie where all of a sudden I'll blow things away and make a joke about it. Because we live in a world where that's a reality."
'As a performer, and one with a family, Robin said he had a special obligation to think about how he was portrayed on-screen and to choose films that reflected his values.'
"The craziness comes from my mother. The discipline comes from my dad."
But the ultimate question arose, " Who was he?" He never let the audience see the real person. 
Modest, inconspicuous, never worthy of any accolades.
Robin had a talent. His talent was in simply being himself - Robin!
For many years he played many roles to the best of his ability while facing his own demons from within including drinking, use of drugs, infidelity among a few.
Through it all Dave Itzkoff shows us a side of Robin many of us knew very little about, the man behind the screen, off set, away from the lights.
He rarely stuck to script, adding lib, talking in circles and losing himself trying to please others.
It seemed based on what I've just read that he wanted so much to be successful in the only way he knew how, "work".
He was involved in many tv shows, many films, yet his biggest critic was not others but himself.
With other comedians coming up from the rear Ie. Jim Carrey in Dumb and Dumber- His ability to compartmentalize and compare was nearly overwhelming. Thankfully his wife at the time, helped ease his concerns in essence noting the room for more than one at the top.
In the end, suicide took his life at an early age. His life was fraught with critics and ripe with controversy (some of which I never even knew till today) however, he did the best he could and made so many of us laugh.
He was in my opinion a genius. He always felt higher than the rest. He was going full circle like a wild horse unable to be caged. His rapid firing responses and his off the cuff persona was what made him 'real' to many. 
I'm heartbroken to learn it was a persona that hid the pain. The pain of acceptance. The pain to be 'normal' , the pain to perform, the pain to be all.
He had several medical issues one of which was Parkinson's and LBD brain disease ( Lewy Body Dementia). Lewy body robbed him of his memory , his talent, his very essence from this neurogenerative disease.
Robin began complaining of a variety of symptoms : Loss of smell, insomnia, trouble urinating, indigestion and heartburn.
As time went on more problems emerged such as panic attacks and or depression.
What was once a happy go lucky albeit insanely funny man now was slowly withering away and time was not kind.
The fear of becoming something he was not was overtly real to him. “There’s that fear — if I felt like I was becoming not just dull but a rock, that I still couldn’t spark, still fire off or talk about things, if I’d start to worry or got too afraid to say something . . . If I stop trying, I’d get afraid,” Williams said. “He had a slow, shuffling gait. He hated that he could not find the words he wanted in conversations. He would thrash at night and still had terrible insomnia. At times, he would find himself stuck in a frozen stance, unable to move, and frustrated when he came out of it. He was beginning to have trouble with visual and spatial abilities in the way of judging distance and depth. His loss of basic reasoning just added to his growing confusion.”
I do believe Billy Crystal said it best about his final days... "I put myself in his place. Think of it this way: The speed at which the comedy came is the speed at which the terrors came,” Crystal said. “And all that they described that can happen with this psychosis, if that’s the right word — the hallucinations, the images, the terror — coming at the speed his comedy came at, maybe even faster, I can’t imagine living like that."
Truly a remarkable life as he was amazing in what he did and there will never be another quite like "Robin".
Thank you to Dave Itzkoff, his publisher, NetGalley, and Aldiko for this ARC copy in exchange for this honest review.
I'm truly asking those of you who grew up watching his work to sit down and welcome this book with open arms like I did as it will bring a new perspective and sadly new closure to the man we all loved.
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Robin Williams was one of my favorite actors growing up. As a kid born in the 1990s, I grew up watching movies like Aladdin and Mrs. Doubtfire and Hook, and I was continually entranced by this charismatic man that had this charm, this something that drew me in and made me laugh, even if my child’s mind didn’t fully grasp the joke. I laughed because even if I didn’t know the punchline, I knew it was funny because I knew Robin Williams was funny.

When I heard that Robin Williams had killed himself in 2014, I was deeply saddened. How could this man whom I had idolized in my childhood do something like this? It seemed such a juxtaposition between two opposing natures – comedy and tragedy – that it was difficult to view these contradictions as the same man. It was this lens that also seemed to put his past work into a different perspective:

"His suicide seemed to cast everything he had done previously in a newly foreboding light; the serious roles were suddenly more urgent and the comic roles now were irreparably tinged with melancholy. As the film critic Bilge Ebiri tweeted with uncommon precision that day, “You start off as a kid seeing Robin Williams as a funny man. You come of age realizing many of his roles are about keeping darkness at bay.”"

I really liked this biography of Robin Williams. The author did a really good job of portraying the comedian’s seemingly dual natures: Robin Williams was both the extroverted, slightly crazy funny man who was always cracking jokes, as well as a more introverted and introspective man, where he was sometimes filled with self-doubt of his abilities. Knowing how Robin Williams ended his own life gave a greater sense of meaning to each moment of self-doubt, to every hiccup on the road, and it made me see the actor and comedian differently than I had before.

This book had a lot of funny parts, too. The author described a lot of his work enough so, if you didn’t see the routine or the movie, you would be able to follow along as well as get a laugh or two from some of the jokes. After reading several sections about Robin’s stand-up, I went to YouTube to see if I could find the whole routines – a lot of it is there – since I’m not as familiar with his early work. It was an interesting experience to watch how his work evolved from his early stand-up roles to Mork & Mindy to movies to stand-up, and everywhere in between. Robin Williams was a fascinating actor and genuinely good person, and I’m glad this was able to shine throughout the book.

However, at its core, this book is about a man suffering from depression who decided to take his own life, despite all of his successes and family and fans that loved him. This book is important, now more than ever, especially with the recent deaths of two cultural icons: Vera Wang and Anthony Bourdain. Mental illness is such a debilitating disease that can affect those we love without us ever noticing, affecting even those who might seem to have a good life – like Williams, Wang, and Bourdain. Depression isn’t logical, but it is a disease with devastating effects, and it is crucial that those suffering from it aren’t subject to the stigma that goes along with mental illness. It’s not always easy to just “turn it off” and “get over it.”

I thank Dave Itzkoff for lending insight into the life of the man who I grew up idolizing as an actor. His life wasn’t always perfect, but he worked hard, overcame his demons for a time, and had a successful career making a lot of people happy. I really like this quote that Robin’s long-time friend, Billy Crystal, said shortly after his death while hosting the Emmy Awards, and so I’ll end here:

"“For almost forty years,” he said, “he was the brightest star in a comedy galaxy. But while some of the brightest of our celestial bodies are actually extinct now, their energy long since cooled, but miraculously, because they float in the heavens, so far away from us now, their beautiful light will continue to shine on us forever. And the glow will be so bright, it’ll warm your heart, it’ll make your eyes glisten, and you’ll think to yourself: Robin Williams, what a concept.”"

Thank you to NetGalley and Henry Holt & Company for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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This was a fantastic biography about Robin William's  childhood and his rise to fame. Itzkoff did an amazing job with his extensive research and covered every aspect about Robin's life and death. Robin's childhood, his school years, the comedy clubs, all his movies, his personal struggles, his marriages, his children and his health. He conducted numerous interviews with family, friends and acquaintances in the comedy club scene. You really get the whole picture of who Robin Williams was. As a comedian, as an actor and as a father. 

I was devastated when I heard the news about Robin William's death and shocked about the circumstances around it. How could this man who brought some much laughter to so many people be depressed and no one knew it? I couldn't wait to read this book and know more about this infamous comedian. I was surprised to learn Robin was shy and quiet. Never in a million years would I have thought that. I enjoyed reading about his friendship with the late Christopher Reeve. The reason he got sober was because of his son. I'm glad I got to know the truth about Robin and Marsha's relationship. The media portrayed Marsha as the nanny that seduced Robin and a home wrecker but in fact that was not the case. I was saddened to read about their demise. And finally, I learned the reasoning on why Robin took his own life.

I definitely recommend this biography to anyone who knew Robin Williams. Fan or not, you will fall in love with him in the end. 

FYI, my favorite movie with Robin Williams was August Rush.

Thank you to NetGalley and Henry Holt & Company for an ARC of Dave Itzkoff's "Robin" in exchange of an honest review.
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Whether you are a fan of Robin William's work, interested in addiction or mental health, or are just looking for a good read, Robin by Dave Itzkoff is certainly a biography worth spending some time with.
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