WHAT COMES TO mind when you think of Arnold Schwarzenegger? The actor? The bodybuilder? Or his latest incarnation as the ‘Governator’?
Some will associate him with the negative stereotype of a gun-toting action man from his pre-governor acting days. It can be argued he wasn’t a good actor, that he was wooden, his accent too thick and his roles too genre specific. Well films are subjective that is a certainty. But his box office returns are among the highest of any actor EVER.
What about bodybuilding? Before Arnold began his career it was a niche sport with little exposure and considered freakish – who are these musclebound men with extraordinary physiques people would wonder? After Arnold became the undisputed king of the bodybuilding world, he helped to bring it to the fore and turned it into a worldwide sport that was no longer a wierd offshoot. There is the controversy of course. Those who do not know much about bodybuilding often write competitors off as steroid abusers: cheats in other words. What an easy way to discredit the discipline and hard work necessary to build such a body. When the playing field are all taking steroids, which are proven to boost muscle growth and prolong exercise gains, then the only way to compete is to take them as well. Not exactly taking the moral high ground but that’s the way the sport was and still is. Either way Arnie revolutionised fitness and retired with 7 Mr. Olympia titles.
What is an Austrian from the countryside to do after moving to America conquering bodybuilding and the movie world? Well we all know what ended up happening – he became the Governor of California, in charge of the biggest GDP of any U.S. state. His political stance as a Republican certainly should have made his relationship with a Kennedy (Maria Shriver) a challenge but he managed to be a successful Governor uniting both Republicans and Democrats when most had failed in many crucial initiatives.
Schwarzenegger had it all to do when he arrived in America. From humble beginnings in the countryside of Austria, he built his physique and used it to better himself and become a behemoth, turning nearly all endeavors into a success apart from his personal life and the infamous baby with the nanny while wed to Maria.
This book covers it all. It is a fantastic read. Arnold is such an infectiously driven person with a persona to match that his appetite for life comes across on nearly every page. You will finish this book feeling inspired, that is how powerful the story is. The quintessential American dream is captured perfectly. Not many would have suspected an Austrian immigrant would be the one to do so.
While the political part of the autobiography could easily have become mundane, even that section offers fascinating insights into the difficulties of change – how hard it is to unite people for the better and to inititiate positive changes for as many people as possible. Arnold is very candid about his time in office and it provides you with a better understanding of politics as a whole no matter what country you live in.
Bodybuilder, actor, politician and activist. I think the main surprise in this autobiography is how sharp Arnold’s mind is. He is an unmitigated success at nearly everything he has attempted – I suggest you read this and make your own mind up, but one thing I guarantee is you’ll be inspired and learn a lot from a man who seems to have lived a dozen lives.