Tue, Oct 09, 2012 - Page 12 News List

Book review: Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story

By Janet Maslin  /  NY Times News Service

In 1977 he met Maria Shriver, who would become his wife and enthusiastic helpmate until the matter of Baena and her son came to light. Although Schwarzenegger says that others wrongly imagined that to “marry a Kennedy” was one of his goals, he, too, speaks of their union as an accomplishment. Among many noxious references to his wife are a buddy’s pre-wedding quip (“Oh boy, wait until she hits menopause”) and his way of commissioning an Andy Warhol portrait of her.

“You know how you always do the paintings of stars?” he says he asked Warhol. “Well, when Maria marries me, she will be a star!”

He does not appear to be joking.

When Schwarzenegger was at the height of his movie career, he thought of quip-making as one of his strong suits. (In Commando, about a man whose neck he has just broken: “Don’t disturb my friend, he’s dead tired.”) But he was personable enough to cultivate his Democratic Kennedy in-laws and also grow close to the Republican circle of President George H.W. Bush. He claims to have been included in a decision-making meeting about the initial Gulf War invasion of Iraq.

His account of his own political career is, of course, careful to accentuate the positive. He ran for governor of California in 2003’s recall election even after Karl Rove told him that Condoleezza Rice was being groomed as a future candidate of choice. He emphasizes his centrist credentials as a Republican favoring a social safety net, solar energy and stem cell research but also facing down his state’s three most powerful public employee unions. He claims to have done his best to grapple with the state’s dire budget woes. But he atypically keeps the crowing minimal: “I do not deny that being governor was more complex and challenging than I had imagined.”

This book ends with a not-great list of “Arnold’s Rules.” They are basic (“Reps, reps, reps”), boorish (“No matter what you do in life, selling is part of it”), big on denial (“When someone tells you no, you should hear yes”) and only borderline helpful. When he met Pope John Paul II in 1983, they talked about workouts. The pope rose daily at 5am in order to stick to his regimen. If he could do it, this book says, you can do it, too.

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