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Fantastic: The Life of Arnold Schwarzenegger Hardcover – May 26, 2005

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; First Edition (stated) edition (May 26, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312333382
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312333386
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,126,899 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

America's love affair with machine brutalism spills over into this somewhat smitten biography of its foremost icon. Leamer (The Kennedy Women) chronicles Schwarzenegger's progress from bodybuilder to action-movie megastar, then California governor, visiting along the way his romance with Kennedy scion Maria Shriver and feud with rival Hollywood muscle-head Sylvester Stallone. It's a tale of relentless self-promotion: Schwarzenegger's fanatical weight-lifting routines are nothing compared with his grueling publicity marathons, including 94 puff-piece interviews in one day for Last Action Hero. Leamer gives his subject a bombastically vain personality, then struggles to make it appealing. He celebrates Schwarzenegger's room-filling ebullience, his "emotional wisdom" and "agape." He discerns a "subtle, ironic distance" in Schwarzenegger's acting. And Leamer downplays Schwarzenegger's alleged habit of groping women, chalking it up to "signals" sent by women who secretly welcome his advances, a casual European attitude toward sex that is "frustrated and puzzled" by American "political correctness" and a fun-loving spirit that "moves toward whatever is most joyful and gives him pleasure." The author is less indulgent toward what he sees as Schwarzenegger's substance-free political campaigning and unwillingness to grapple with California's long-term budget crisis. His book is not fantastic, but it's well researched and moves along at a pleasantly robotic clip.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

What can one say about the outsized, often outrageous Arnold Schwarzenegger--tank driver, bodybuilding champion, action-movie megastar, and now governor of California--that he has not already boasted about himself? Let me tell you (as Arnold--on a first-name basis with everyone--might say), he is one of the most successful acts in the history of promotion. However, veteran celebrity biographer Leamer has a lot to say here that Arnold might not necessarily approve of, from his savvy in thriving in the movie industry to allegations about his boorish behavior with women. Although Schwarzenegger granted Leamer an interview, this is not an authorized work. Nor is it a wrecking ball of dishing. Coming after decades of books (Pumping Iron, 1974), muscle-magazine cover stories, and tabloid fodder about the superstar, it sorts through the pulp and the fiction on a search for the real Arnold and largely finds him. Part of his myth is that of the self-made man; while that is true of Arnold's later days, in his early years, he benefited from crucial patrons drawn to his sunny-skies ebullience, none more so than Joe Weider, publisher of bodybuilding magazines and the impetus behind Arnold's move to Los Angeles in 1968. Covering Arnold's competitions, movies, marriage to Maria Shriver, and electoral victory in 2003, Leamer skillfully sails between the idolaters and the iconoclasts, heading toward the multitude of readers interested in Arnold's character and life. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

More About the Author

Back in the seventies, bestselling author Laurence Leamer worked in a West Virginia coal mine. Four decades later that led him back to coal country to write his newest book, The Price of Justice, the story of two Pittsburgh lawyers and their more than decade long struggle to bring Don Blankenship, the chair of Massey Energy, to justice. It's a compelling story that John Grisham calls "superb...This is a book I wish I had written."

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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See all 25 customer reviews
The book is very inspirational on achieving ones goals and making ones destiny.
J. Gonsowski
I would recommend this book to any fans of Schwarzenegger or those interested in reading a biography of an ambitious individual.
Andrew Collins
It appears to be a very objective and fair portrayal, one that is interesting and very well written.
L. A. Kane

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By John on July 7, 2005
Format: Hardcover
There have been some really bad Arnold biographies in the past. They've either been written by huge fans of the actor who ignore all his mistakes and "unlikable" traits, or authors who detest Schwarzenegger and smear tabloid reports all over their pages.

"Fantastic" is the best Arnold Schwarzenegger biography out there, and it's a very insightful - and fair - portrait of the man.

Author Laurence Leamer is a huge Kennedy fan (he's written books "The Kennedy Men" and "The Kennedy Women") so it's reasonable to assume he is a Democrat. Arnold, as we all know, is not. Leamer has likely written this book because Arnold is married to Maria Shriver, a Kennedy family member.

As a result he doesn't paint everything picture-perfect. I get the feeling he likes Arnold, but also sees another side of the action star that people don't know about - a vicious, mean-spirited man with an obsession for fame and fortune.

Leamer recalls a story surrounding the release of "Red Heat" in 1988. Schwarzenegger was crying, a newspaper in his hand. One of Arnie's friends asked what is wrong. He pointed to the paper: "Red Heat" had debuted at no. 2 at the box office with only $37 million (back then, that was actually quite a lot, but it still didn't match the gross of his earlier films). "Don't worry, it's number two," his friend told him. And Arnold replied, "But I want to be number one!"

This book covers Arnold's life from childhood to political adulthood. It doesn't skip over the harsh stuff - it details his sexual lust (traced back to his early days of bodybuilding) and quest for fame. It mentions his affairs, and his row with Sylvester Stallone in the late '80s and early '90s.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Michael Heath VINE VOICE on August 8, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Mr. Leamer had a tremendously difficult task, writing a biography about a subject who reached the pinnacle in three different functional areas whose personal life has been on display for 30+ years.

Mr. Leamer is able to provide considerable perspective in each discipline with the exception of Arnold's business dealings. Having a brother who is a nationally recognized economist appeared to really help bring a fair and compelling perspective of Arnold's politics that is rarely found in the newspapers that cover CA politics. Leamer is also able to get Arnold's closest associates on the record, making this body of work argubly the definitive biography of Arnold that mayever be written for the period of his life that is covered.

Besides being unbiased, I was also impressed with Leamer's writing skills, the book is highly readable without sinking to innuendo and massive amounts of anonymous quotes a la' Kitty Kelly.

While Arnold is quite the character, making it easy in terms of having lots entertaining content to cover, the fact he is visible makes for a challenge to divulge fresh unknown material. I believe Leamer best excels in presenting the nature of Arnold's personality, in fact he does an excellent job of helping us to understand how a gregarious guy like Arnold that loves people could also be so crude and demeaning to not just his foes, but those around him.

Because Arnold is such a likable personality and has excelled in five areas (sports, business, acting, and politics); Leamer's Arnold is presented in a mostly positive light - I would assume that Arnold and his family would be happy with this product.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By J. Wellington on September 23, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I picked up this book hoping to gain some insight on someone who had realized so many goals and dreams. Arnold wanted to greatest bodybuilder in the world, Hollywood's biggest star, and then governor. Through each pursuit, he was mocked and ridiculed but we all know how Arnold laughed at the end.

The book really gives us the reader a candid and personal look at Arnold's upbringing and was refreshingly unbiased. This book awakened me to how much Arnold has risen from Mr. Olympia and Conan ... an almost national joke ... to overcome his detractors to become governor of California and who knows what else he decides to become.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By G. Reid on July 3, 2005
Format: Hardcover
All about Arnold Schwarzenegger, his friends, his family and his incredible climb to fame and fortune. The author has managed to truly present the life of Schwarzenegger without either a negative or a positive bias. The author has been able to tell the story from the middle position giving the reader the truth, good and bad, about his subject. Schwarzenegger is a very interesting person, but not a god-like person as many of the voters in California hoped he would be.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By LifeExplorer on April 24, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I read this book last summer, and it is just that...Fantastic. If you are a fan of Arnold, you will realize how this human being started out with nothing but dreams and ambition and the will to succeed, and how he was able to build a Fantastic Life.

Several black and white pictures of him and his family and friends are also included.

This book will hopefully shed some light into Arnolds biography and have people realize that he just didn't become Successful overnight, but he actually built his own road to success.
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