[Book Review] Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story by Arnold Schwarzenegger - Alvinology

[Book Review] Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story by Arnold Schwarzenegger

Book cover
Book cover

We all have fixated views about beefcakes and supermodels don’t we?

When you hear the name Arnold Schwarzenegger, what comes to mind?


Dumb beefcake?

Arnold is living testament to how wrong stereotypes can be. His autography, Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story, tells an extraordinary story on the extraordinary success of a very smart and driven person.

Born in a broken and poor Austria after WWII, Arnold documents his journey to the United States and how he worked towards his single-minded dream to first become the top bodybuilder in the world, followed by one of the top stars in Hollywood and eventually, the mayor of California.

Was the autobiography honest?

Yes and no. I find him more candid on the earlier part of his life. The accounts read more guarded and scripted in his description on how he became a Republican and how he came to run for political office.

On a personal level, the story reads like a long apology note to his wife, in an attempt to patch up their recent divorce due to his infidelity in fathering a son with their housekeeper.

Otherwise, I find this book pretty inspirational and enjoyable to read. This is better than a lot of self-help craps out there – at least we know Arnold walked the talk with spectacular results to show.

Arnold signing a copy of his book (picture via The Guardian)
Arnold signing a copy of his book (picture via The Guardian)

At the pinnacle of his bodybuilding career, Arnold had the perfect body both men and women would die for.

He had his fair share of beautiful women in his lifetime and eventually married Maria Shriver, a rare combination of beauty and intelligence. They had three lovely children together and a happy family.

Even before he started his Hollywood career, Arnold was already a self-made millionaire from shrewd property investments. He arrived in America dirt-poor, self-schooled himself through community colleges and worked his way up doing sales, construction and all kinds of odd jobs. This is a true story of the American Dream.

Arnold set a goal to become one of the top star in Hollywood and he achieved it by sitting out for only leading roles. Who can forget his role as the Terminator? He could have become a mediocre action star during his era who faded into obscurity now like Chuck Norris or Jean-Claude Van Damme, but he rise above all through shrewd career moves.

When he entered politics, there were lots of skeptics who were happy to poke fun of him as a caricature, but look what he has achieved. He leveraged on his perceived weakness as strength, gaining ground by playing up the underdog image.

Reading Arnold’s book impressed upon me that nothing is impossible with a can-do attitude and good work ethics.

I was not a fan of Arnold before reading this book, neither am I after reading it, but I am an admirer of what he have achieved and how he went about achieving all the accomplishment he set out for himself.

Instead of reading self-help books written by self-help gurus who only became rich and famous by writing those books, Arnold wrote his book after he became rich and famous.

The book is a good read. Do check it out.

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