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

Title: Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story
Author: Arnold Schwarzenegger
Publication Date: October 1, 2012
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Pages: 656
ISBN: 978-1451662436


“Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story” is the autobiography of Arnold Schwarzenegger, a multifaceted individual known for his extraordinary achievements in bodybuilding, acting, and politics. In this candid memoir, Schwarzenegger recounts his journey from a small Austrian village to the global stage, providing readers with an intimate look into his life, career, and the mindset that drove his success.


Early Life and Bodybuilding Career: Schwarzenegger begins his story in Thal, Austria, where he was born in 1947. He describes his early years, marked by a strict upbringing and an unyielding desire to achieve greatness. His passion for bodybuilding led him to move to America, where he won multiple Mr. Olympia titles and became a legend in the sport. The book provides a detailed account of his training routines, competitions, and the strategies he employed to dominate the bodybuilding world.

Hollywood Stardom: Transitioning from bodybuilding to acting, Schwarzenegger chronicles his rise to fame in Hollywood. He shares behind-the-scenes stories from iconic films like “Conan the Barbarian,” “The Terminator,” and “Predator.” His determination to succeed in an industry skeptical of his abilities and his thick accent is inspiring. Schwarzenegger’s anecdotes about working with directors and fellow actors add depth to his Hollywood journey.

Political Career: Schwarzenegger’s foray into politics is another fascinating chapter of his life. He details his decision to run for Governor of California, his campaign strategies, and his experiences while in office. The memoir provides insights into the challenges he faced, the policies he implemented, and his vision for California. His political career is portrayed with the same drive and ambition that characterized his earlier pursuits.

Personal Life: Throughout the book, Schwarzenegger opens up about his personal life, including his marriage to Maria Shriver, his role as a father, and the personal challenges he faced. He addresses his extramarital affair and the birth of his son, which led to the end of his marriage. His candidness about these aspects of his life adds a layer of vulnerability and authenticity to the memoir.

Lessons and Reflections: “Total Recall” is not just a recounting of events but also a reflection on the lessons Schwarzenegger has learned. He shares his philosophies on success, discipline, and resilience. His mantra, “work your butt off and don’t ever give up,” resonates throughout the book, making it a motivational read for anyone striving for success in their own life.


“Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story” is an engaging and inspiring autobiography that offers a comprehensive look at Arnold Schwarzenegger’s remarkable life. Here are some key strengths and potential drawbacks of the book:


  • Inspiring Narrative: Schwarzenegger’s story is a testament to the power of ambition and hard work. His journey from a small village in Austria to global stardom is motivational and uplifting.
  • Candidness: The book is refreshingly honest, with Schwarzenegger openly discussing his successes, failures, and personal flaws. This transparency adds depth and relatability to his story.
  • Entertaining Anecdotes: Filled with behind-the-scenes stories from his bodybuilding, acting, and political careers, the memoir is both informative and entertaining.
  • Life Lessons: Schwarzenegger’s reflections on his life experiences provide valuable insights and practical advice for readers.

Potential Drawbacks:

  • Length: At 656 pages, the book is quite lengthy and detailed. Some readers might find the extensive coverage of certain topics overwhelming.
  • Self-Promotion: At times, the memoir can feel self-congratulatory, though this is balanced by Schwarzenegger’s willingness to discuss his mistakes and shortcomings.


“Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story” by Arnold Schwarzenegger is a captivating and insightful autobiography that offers a deep dive into the life of one of the most iconic figures of our time. His story of relentless ambition, resilience, and reinvention is not only inspiring but also a valuable lesson in the power of perseverance and hard work. Despite its length, the book is a must-read for fans of Schwarzenegger and anyone looking for motivation to pursue their own dreams.

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