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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.
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VINE VOICEon August 8, 2005
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. I do think however that the book is fair and when it presents stories that elevate or detract from his reputation; I believe Leamer presents these stories in the proper context.

I also recommend this book to anyone who is ambitous; Arnold's life is a classic case study on how to succeed, he's earned his station in life, and Leamer explains how. What's fun for us is it appears that Arnold's climb to success was a "fantastically" joyous ride.
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on September 23, 2005
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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on July 3, 2005
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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on January 14, 2013
Arnold Schwarzenegger is a man who has striven to succeed in many different aspects of life: as a bodybuilder, an actor, a businessperson, and a politician. Even if you are not a fan of bodybuilding or his films, it is hard not to admire him a little for the ambition and adventures he has had in life.

Schwarzenegger was born in Austria in 1947 and grew up in the small village of Thal. Even at a young age, he was quite ambitious in life. He became interested in bodybuilding. The book explains the reasons for this such as how he and he alone could take in the glory without having to share it with others. This led him to eventually leave his native Austria and travel to other European countries and eventually the United States to further his bodybuilding career. He competed for many titles and sought recognition in an otherwise very niche sport. This led him to eventually win the highest title in bodybuilding, Mr. Olympia, not once, but multiple times.

Schwarzenegger also got involved in acting and the world of Hollywood. There were some early films, like Hercules in New York, but they barely made a splash. His first real hit was 1977's docudrama Pumping Iron. He transitioned full-time to acting away from bodybuilding in the early 1980s. Many of his films would become modern classics such as The Terminator and Total Recall. Everyone today knows him as the macho-man action star who wields large weapons, kills ruthlessly, and, of course, always gets the bad guy all while spurting one-liners. Like with any acting career, not all of his films would be successes. Last Action Hero bombed at the box office and Batman & Robin is usually considered one of the worst films of all time.

During his Hollywood career, Schwarzenegger also developed a feud with the other action hero of the period, Sylvester Stallone. The book explores this, how it started and what caused it to proliferate.

Schwarzenegger's ambition could not be stopped there. In acting, he made millions and realized his dream of becoming a global star. However, he had higher sights: politics. Schwarzenegger was a lifelong Republican since first moving to the United States. He set his sights on the governorship of California. Schwarzenegger was not at all happy with then governor Gray Davis and his shrinking popularity with Californians made it an excellent opportunity for Schwarzenegger. In 2003, a recall election was triggered and Schwarzenegger filed as a candidate. The special election saw Davis removed from office and Schwarzenegger being elected out of only a few serious candidates. In office, he became the action governor constantly campaigning for whatever reforms, initiatives, or legislation he was supporting seeking public support.

Arnold Schwarzenegger has lived a life of unbridled ambition. Coming in second was never good enough for him whether that was in a bodybuilding competition or at the box office. Even if you are not a big Schwarzenegger fan, the book makes for an exciting read of the man's life.

The book is a fair look at Schwarzenegger. While there is a lot to be admired in Schwarzenegger, the book is not shy about his shortcomings. He could be mean to people and in his younger years he had a history of a lax attitude toward sex and women.

The book was originally published in 2005 and today is a little dated. Most of his governorship is not present and the recent revelation of a love child he fathered in 1997 is absent as well.

In conclusion, I thought this was an excellent and interesting look at Arnold Schwarzenegger and the many adventures of his life. I would recommend this book to any fans of Schwarzenegger or those interested in reading a biography of an ambitious individual.
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on April 24, 2006
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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on August 11, 2005
A fairly unbiased look into the man, the myth, and the legend of Arnold Schwarzenegger. It's a great story of one man's dreams and his provisions of achieving it. Many great quotes, even though one could question the truthfulness of some details. The book is very inspirational on achieving ones goals and making ones destiny. A great read of a man who would become a great king or conqueror if born centuries before our time.
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on December 25, 2012
This was a fun audiobook to listen to on our vacation trip. Arnold has lived a truly amazing life with many ups and downs. The politics part at the end made the book kind of drag on. But the first 5 discs are fast-paced and an engaging look at Arnold's past before politics.
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VINE VOICEon June 10, 2005
A revealing look into what makes the Governator tick. This excellent biography describes Arnold's vision and the inner drive that made him successful as a body builder, actor, politician, and family man. It appears to be a very objective and fair portrayal, one that is interesting and very well written. Highly recommended.
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on November 6, 2006
As a big fan of Arnold I couldnt wait to buy this book.

However as he is now a politician I feared it may be nothing but pro Arnold propangada as there is a future possibility of this man running for president. Instead I found a well written, interesting and honest account of the man who was born with nothing material but had bucketfulls of determination, ambition and confidence. The early accounts of Arnolds life are facinating and the book gives an honest account of how Arnold was far from the perfect man providing details of his gamesmanship and arrogance in bodybuilding contests and his days of womanising.

Some people only knock this book because they despise the fact that Arnold won California. The facts are he is the greatest bodybuilder of all time, his movies while not oscar winners sold millions of cinema tickets and he did win California which was incredible. Love him or loathe him the mans a winner. My only knock against this book is that it contains too much political stuff and as I am from Spain im not very interested in American politics.
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