What We Are Reading Today: Robin by Dave Itzkoff

Updated 07 October 2019

What We Are Reading Today: Robin by Dave Itzkoff

From his rapid-fire stand-up comedy riffs to his breakout role in Mork & Mindy and his Academy Award-winning performance in Good Will Hunting, Robin Williams was a singularly innovative and beloved entertainer. He often came across as a man possessed, holding forth on culture and politics while mixing in personal revelations — all with mercurial, tongue-twisting intensity as he inhabited and shed one character after another with lightning speed.

But as Dave Itzkoff shows in this revelatory biography, Williams’s comic brilliance masked a deep well of conflicting emotions and self-doubt, which he drew upon in his comedy and in celebrated films like Dead Poets Society; Good Morning, Vietnam; The Fisher King; Aladdin; and Mrs. Doubtfire, where he showcased his limitless gift for improvisation to bring to life a wide range of characters, according to a review published on goodreads.com.

Itzkoff also shows how Williams struggled mightily with addiction and depression and with a debilitating condition at the end of his life that affected him in ways his fans never knew.


What We Are Reading Today: The Puritans: A Transatlantic History by David D. Hall

Updated 21 November 2019

What We Are Reading Today: The Puritans: A Transatlantic History by David D. Hall

This book is a sweeping transatlantic history of Puritanism from its emergence out of the religious tumult of Elizabethan England to its founding role in the story of America. 

Shedding critical new light on the diverse forms of Puritan belief and practice in England, Scotland, and New England, David Hall provides a multifaceted account of a cultural movement that judged the Protestant reforms of Elizabeth’s reign to be unfinished. Hall’s vivid and wide-ranging narrative describes the movement’s deeply ambiguous triumph under Oliver Cromwell, its political demise with the Restoration of the English monarchy in 1660, and its perilous migration across the Atlantic to establish a “perfect reformation” in the New World.

A breathtaking work of scholarship by an eminent historian, The Puritans examines the tribulations and doctrinal dilemmas that led to the fragmentation and eventual decline of Puritanism. It presents a compelling portrait of a religious and political movement that was divided virtually from the start.

In England, some wanted to dismantle the Church of England entirely and others were more cautious, while Puritans in Scotland were divided between those willing to work with a troublesome king and others insisting on the independence of the state church.

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