Top positive review
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A fair and insightful look at Arnold that doesn't take sides - the best of his bios!
on July 7, 2005
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. (The entire ordeal is fascinating, something I had never been aware of - I always thought they were friends! Now the Stallone put-down in the movie "Twins" takes on a whole new edge!)
At the same time, Leamer is respectful of the movie star and points out his good traits, as well. He paints him as a joyful, light-hearted guy who just likes to have a good time, but can be obsessive at times and, when aggravated, rather vicious.
"Fantastic" is, well, a fantastic insight into the life of Arnold Schwarzenegger, and the first true Arnold bio to deliver the goods without skipping over crucial events or focusing solely on his mishaps.
A very good read: well written and intelligent, I recomend it to fans - or non-fans, even - of Schwarzenegger without hesitation.