Total Recall Summary

Total Recall Book Summary and Review | Arnold Schwarzenegger

My Unbelievably True Life Story

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 “Total Recall” is a book written by Arnold Schwarzenegger. It was published in 2012. The book is an autobiography that chronicles Schwarzenegger’s life, from his childhood in Austria to his successful career in bodybuilding, acting, and politics. 

In the book, Schwarzenegger shares personal stories and lessons learned from his experiences. He also reflects on the challenges he faced and the decisions that shaped his life. The book offers a unique and candid look at the life of one of the most successful and well-known figures in the world. 

About Arnold Schwarzenegger

Arnold Schwarzenegger is an Austrian-American actor, producer, businessman, investor, author, philanthropist, and former professional bodybuilder and politician. He is best known for his roles in the “Terminator” film series and as the 38th Governor of California. 

Schwarzenegger began his career as a bodybuilder, winning the Mr. Universe title at the age of 20. He later transitioned into acting and became a household name with his roles in many blockbuster films. In 2003, Schwarzenegger was elected Governor of California. He served two terms in office before returning to his career in the entertainment industry. 

StoryShot #1: The Early Years

The first part of the book covers Schwarzenegger’s childhood and teenage years, beginning with his birth and ending with his move to the United States in 1968.

Born in Austria in 1947, he grew up in a farming village. His father was a police officer and extremely strict with Arnold and his elder brother. He enforced discipline and training for his sons, who regularly completed chores from a young age and later played sports and exercised. They even had to earn breakfast by doing sit-ups.

His first entrepreneurial project was selling ice cream at the park when he turned 10 years old.

Arnold turned discipline into drive. He knew he was destined for big things and thought about going to America, which he viewed as the most powerful country. 

At school, he saw a picture of the bodybuilding champion that was Mr. Austria also wearing glasses which he associated with intellect. He was fascinated by somebody who could be clever and strong.

Arnold began to train with friends in the park, going there daily. One day he met Mr. Austria and occasionally began to train with him. It was here he saw that there was no shortcut to success, you had to earn it. He was told that if he trained hard he too could win Mr. Austria, so he decided that’s what he would do and envisioned that this would be how he would get to America.

StoryShot #2: The Middle Years

The second part of the book continues the story of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s life, covering the period from the late 1960s to the early 1980s.  During this time, Schwarzenegger achieved international fame as a bodybuilder and actor. He starred in a series of blockbuster movies and became one of the most recognized and beloved figures in popular culture.

Building a Body

Arnold Schwarzenegger has led an extraordinary life. Arriving in America as an immigrant at the

age of 21, he went on to dominate bodybuilding, before switching to movies and then again transitioning into politics.  When he first performed weightlifting in public, the applause from the crowd had a big effect on him and he realized that he performed much better in front of others.

At 18 he went to join the Austrian army as all young men had to serve. Basic training taught him that something that may seem impossible at the start can be achieved. He continued training in the army and was able to eat meat every day for the first time in his life. 

Confessions of a Tank Driver

He took the position of a tank driver which required three years of service, but he asked to leave early as he was offered a job managing a gym in Munich, Germany. His accident-prone tank driving record may have helped his request to be approved.

Working in the gym and recruiting new members meant that he had to split his own workouts and train twice a day. He realized that this was a great benefit when he noticed the results.

Mr. Universe

Schwarzenegger signed up for Mr. Universe in London, the biggest bodybuilding event in Europe. In 1966 at 19 years of age, he took his first flight and came second, which was a lot better than he imagined. This caused him to start being mentioned in magazines, and his mindset for every competition from then on was to win rather than just compete.

In his quest to “leave no stone unturned” and not enter a competition at a disadvantage, he used steroids, which were legal at the time. He won Mr. Universe the following year and his lifestyle changed significantly.

Schwarzenegger knew that to get to America he’d have to dominate bodybuilding in Europe and set about doing just that, retaining his Mr. Universe title. He was then invited to defend his title in Miami but came second.

StoryShot #3: Greetings from Los Angeles

As a rising star, Schwarzenegger was invited to stay in America for a year to train with other established stars. Moving to such a different country was a challenge, but he quickly felt at home when training at Gold’s gym in Los Angeles and made many friends there. He signed up for English classes to speed up picking up the language.

His main mission though was to train like hell and win more titles the following year. He did this by focusing on his flaws to remove any weak points, and not just work on what he was good at.

For some extra money, Schwarzenegger took a driving job and then worked at a weightlifting and supplements store. He got advice and learned how to succeed in business from the owner of the store, who became his mentor. One piece of advice was the importance of going global rather than limiting business to one country.

Schwarzenegger won more titles and then began on phase two of his American dream – getting into the movie business. Schwarzenegger worked hard to achieve his goals, training intensely and pursuing acting opportunities. He landed his first movie role in “Hercules in New York”.

Schwarzenegger became more and more successful in the entertainment industry as his career progresses.

He stars in a series of blockbuster movies, including “Conan the Barbarian” and “The Terminator”. Schwarzenegger has become one of the most recognized and beloved figures in popular culture.

He faced challenges and setbacks along the way, but remained dedicated and driven. Schwarzenegger’s hard work and persistence paid off with his incredible levels of success in both his acting and bodybuilding careers.

StoryShot #4: Learning American

At the time, Schwarzenegger spoke very little English and had to work hard to learn the language and improve his communication skills. When a bodybuilder was required for the film, “Hercules in New York” but his Austrian accent was so thick, his lines were dubbed. 

According to the book, Schwarzenegger’s journey to learn English was a challenging but rewarding one. He took classes and studied materials to improve his vocabulary and grammar. He also practiced speaking with native English speakers as much as possible. He watched a lot of American television and movies to become more familiar with the language and culture.

Despite the difficulties he faced, Schwarzenegger was determined to succeed and become fluent in English. He persevered and eventually made great progress, developing a strong command of the language and using it effectively in his acting and public speaking. Through his efforts, Schwarzenegger was able to overcome the language barrier and fully embrace life in the United States.

As his English improved, Schwarzenegger gave seminars and also started a mail-order business selling training booklets and other weightlifting Products. This business gradually built over time. He also worked in construction and went to college to learn the business.

StoryShot #5: The Greatest Muscle Show Ever

Arnold Schwarzenegger writes about his experiences competing in and eventually winning the Mr. Olympia bodybuilding competition. In 1970 over a two-week period, Schwarzenegger won Mr. Universe, Mr. World, and Mr. Olympia to become top of the bodybuilding tree. The money he received from these titles coupled with profits from his other businesses allowed him to put some of it into an investment.

He researched real-estate for a couple of years and worked with an existing real-estate expert, investing in apartment blocks to rent out.

After conquering bodybuilding, his next goal was to promote bodybuilding to the masses. He published a book on the sport and then built on the book’s success by taking part in a documentary where Schwarzenegger came out of temporary retirement to win the 1975 Mr. Olympia for a record 6th time in a row.

He also created his own bodybuilding show and appeared on national talk shows to educate the public, giving the sport a face at the same time.

His appearances on tv opened up opportunities to meet people from the acting world and he was soon appearing in roles on television shows. After taking acting classes for three months and working on his accent, he transitioned into films.


We rate Total Recall book 4.1/5.

Our Score

Total Recall PDF, Free Audiobook, Infographic, and Animated Book Summary 

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