Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story by Arnold Schwarzenegger
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Put simply, if you've ever admired Arnold in any capacity before, you'll have plenty to admire within these pages.
He exemplifies the American dream, worn like a cloak before the camera, and he practiced, practiced, practiced all his lines. It's as convincing as his bodybuilding career and his charming bi-partisan political run as Governor of California. That is to say, quite convincing. After all, he always described himself as an iconoclast who would shoot for the top of any and every field. And he obviously worked very, very hard to get there.
It's the American Dream all wrapped up in a nutshell. And it's made all the more convincing because he seems to really, truly believe it. Of course, the times were right and he immediately diversified himself when it came to being the world bodybuilding champion, getting into real estate and making bank before setting his sights on film, and getting in on the ground floor with James Cameron right after making himself a name as Conan. From there on, it was a huge success story of who you know and this is underscored by how he became a part of the Kennedy family. Arnold is a very outgoing guy and undeniably smart and driven. Having a huge run of wildly successful films made him a household name and he became tight with so many people high up in politics. In retrospect, for someone who just says they WANT something bad enough and works extra hard to get there, it's kinda obvious that he would... assuming that he is also a genius at marketing.
From marketing his body, real estate, public perception, having an in with the most prominent American political family, marketing an acting career, and marketing his politics, it's downright obvious.
And you know what? His autobiography is also a great marketing tool. He's made mistakes and done some questionable things, but he always admits to them and sets his sights forward. It's charming. But more than that, he's had one hell of a run and no one can deny it.
I, however, can't quite settle on the fact that it was all about the American Dream. Maybe it's just me. But there are a LOT of frankly amazing coincidences that fell into place even long before his acting career. Either it was fantastic luck AND hard work or it was a truly ruthless marketing campaign with a lot of help from a LOT of people on the outside.
Of course, Arnold did use the word Schmooze to describe all his networking. It very well could have been all of the above.
All told, the book seems to leave NOTHING out. I think it's slightly over-long on the bodybuilding bits but a lot of readers will have different opinions on all that. I would have liked more movie-talking but there was quite a bit here, too. I had a good time getting to know Arnold, regardless.
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