With a career like that, it should’ve been the perfect autobiography. His accomplishments as the greatest bodybuilder ever and one of the greatest action stars ever should’ve been biblical. But it isn’t, and I think the reason is that his career is just too much for one book. What this is, is a book on bodybuilding first, politics and marketing second, and his career as an action star third. The first third of the 600 or so pages is devoted to early life and bodybuilding. This section is well written, not too analytical, not too sentimental. Good use of anecdotes. So well written, it amps up the anticipation for the real deal – his movie career. Because let’s face it, Arnold is Arnold because of his movies. This section ends with Schwarzenegger telling his second love: Marketing.
And then the real meat – his movie career. This is the real reason people will buy this book and, truth be told, it’s a bit disappointing. Disappointing in that with such an extraordinary resume and his personality, better was expected. The problem is he doesn’t really seem as interested in discussing this section of his life as he is bodybuilding, or the third section of his book – politics. Movies like The Terminator/T2, Predator and Total Recall seem to be a bit scant in Arnold’s ‘recollection’. Anecdotes are few but numbers and analytical musing aren’t. Too often he recalls how he used his skills at promoting the big movies, and too often the Kennedys and politics raise their heads here. It’s insightful, but it’s told from the perspective of a job, a way of progressing to bigger things and, honestly, a bit sterile. It’s good, it’s unique, but it should have been better.
The third section is politics, although this part of his life heavily intrudes even earlier in the book than it should have (i.e. I don’t really want to hear shit about Bush circa 90-91, the height of his movie career). I am a student of geo-politics, but I don’t give a shit about Arnold’s political aspirations. Let’s face it, the guy shot at the moon and wanted the presidency, California was a means to an end. So even that hints a bit of disingenuity. This is the worst part of the book. To be honest, Arnold’s memoirs needed at least two books. He starts off by really fleshing out his pre-movie life, but by the time he’s finished, it seems he hasn’t appreciated the room or time left. I.e. you can only put so much into one book and it’s clear that Arnold had a specific time in mind for the release to help his comeback. In my opinion, he should released three volumes; Bodybuilding, Movies and Politics.
Still, this book is highly recommended. For those who don’t read books, don’t fear, it’s very easy to digest and if you love Arnold Schwarzenegger, then no amount of ‘net articles or magazine interviews will come close.