‘Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story’ is an autobiography of the world famous actor, politician and champion bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger. Unlike many autobiographies that I have read this book seems to focus more on what Arnold achieved in office as Governor of California and his massive business successes, rather than stories of his life and personal experiences.
I’m not saying that that’s all the book has to it, there is still a great deal in their that appeals to me as a fan, and I learnt a great deal about him that I did not know before. However, the last third of the book centres mostly on his time as Governor of California and the different initiatives he introduced and what he did to improve the economy of the state and very quickly becomes more of a chore to read than the rest of the book.
The first 200 or so pages of the book focus on Arnold’s childhood, his bodybuilding career and his journey from Austria to America as a young man. During these pages, when Arnold comes to the realisation that bodybuilding is the path for him he begins a statement that will be repeated many times in the book, that once he sets his mind to something, no matter what it is, he will achieve his goals.
Arnold also gives some interesting insights and anecdotes about a number of the films that he work on over the years, describing how he interacted with the fellow cast members as well as the crew, how he was nervous about playing the Terminator through fear of being typecast as a villain, and the various personal struggles that took place around his movies, like filming scenes for Predator one day and flying back home the next to attend his own wedding!
These stories are fascinating and entertaining, and I wished that Arnold had sent more time talking about his film career and could tell us more stories from the sets of his film, but I have a feeling that these stories could fill a number of books just on their own.
Intertwined with his film career are stories about how he sets up successful real-estate and mail order businesses, meets and falls in love with his wife, Maria Shriver, and becomes involved in politics at a non-governor level.
As I said earlier, the last part of the book deals with Arnold as governor or California, which is an interesting insight into one of the world’s biggest economies during a difficult financial time. However what initially begins as an interesting read quickly becomes bogged down by political jargon. These last sections feel less like an autobiography and more like a list of things that Arnold feels he needs to justify about his time in office, to show that he did some good during his terms.
Finally, after dealing with politics Arnold addresses his infidelity, his illegitimate child and the breakdown of his marriage with Maria. Unfortunately, like with most of the book, Arnold just gives us the bare facts, a breakdown of what happened and little to no emotion. Perhaps Arnold is a very private person, and whilst he is comfortable telling us what has happened to him over the years, he does not feel comfortable telling us how these events affected him emotionally.A prime example is when Arnold tells the story of how is mother died, which was moving, but I can’t help but feel that is Arnold had put more emotion into it it would have had a greater impact upon me as the reader. Overall an enjoyable read filled with great stories, but lacks any real depth or emotion.
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