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Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story Paperback – November 5, 2013
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About the Author
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Out of Austria
I was born into a year of famine. It was 1947, and Austria was occupied by the Allied armies that had defeated Hitler’s Third Reich. In May, two months before I was born, there were hunger riots in Vienna, and in Styria, the southeastern province where we lived, the food shortages were just as bad. Years later, if my mother wanted to remind me about how much she and my father sacrificed to bring me up, she’d tell me how she’d foraged across the countryside, making her way from farm to farm to collect a little butter, some sugar, some grain. She’d be away three days sometimes. Hamstern, they called it, like a hamster gathering nuts; scrounging for food was so common.
Thal was the name of our very typical farm village. A few hundred families made up the entire population, their houses and farms clustered in hamlets connected by footpaths and lanes. The unpaved main road ran for a couple of kilometers up and down low alpine hills covered with fields and pine forests.
We saw very little of the British forces who were in charge—just an occasional truck with soldiers rolling through. But to the east, Russians occupied the area, and we were very conscious of them. The Cold War had begun, and we all lived in fear that the Russian tanks would roll in, and we’d be swallowed up into the Soviet empire. The priests in church would scare the congregation with horror stories of Russians shooting babies in the arms of their mothers.
Our house was on the top of a hill along the road, and as I was growing up, it was unusual to see more than one or two cars come through a day. A ruined castle dating back to feudal times was right across from us, one hundred yards from our door.
On the next rise were the mayor’s office; the Catholic church where my mother made us all go to Sunday Mass; the local Gasthaus, or inn, which was the social heart of the village; and the primary school attended by me and my brother, Meinhard, who was a year older than me.
My earliest memories are of my mother washing clothes and my father shoveling coal. I was no more than three years old, but the image of my father is especially sharp in my mind. He was a big, athletic guy, and he did a lot of things himself. Every autumn we’d get our winter supply of coal, a truckload dumped in front of our house, and on this occasion he was letting Meinhard and me help him carry it into the cellar. We were always so proud to be his assistants.
My father and mom both originally came from working-class families farther north—factory laborers, mostly, in the steel industry. During the chaos at the end of World War II, they’d met in the city of Mürzzuschlag, where my mother, Aurelia Jadrny, was a clerk in a food-distribution center at city hall. She was in her early twenties, and a war widow—her husband had gotten killed just eight months after their wedding. Working at her desk one morning, she noticed my father passing on the street—an older guy, in his late thirties, but tall and good looking and wearing the uniform of the gendarmerie, the rural police. She was crazy about men in uniforms, so every day after that she watched for him. She figured out when his shift was so she would be sure to be at her desk. They’d talk through the open window, and she’d give him some food from whatever they had on hand.
His name was Gustav Schwarzenegger. They got married late in 1945. He was thirty-eight, and she was twenty-three. My father was assigned to Thal and put in charge of a four-man post responsible for the village and nearby countryside. The salary was barely enough to live on, but with the job came a place to live: the old forester’s lodge, or Forsthaus. The forest ranger, or Forstmeister, lived on the ground floor, and the Inspektor and his family occupied the top.
My boyhood home was a very simple stone and brick building, well proportioned, with thick walls and little windows to keep out the alpine winters. We had two bedrooms, each with a coal oven for heat, and a kitchen, where we ate, did our homework, washed ourselves, and played games. The heat in that room was supplied by my mother’s stove.
There was no plumbing, no shower, and no flushing toilet, just a kind of chamber pot. The nearest well was almost a quarter mile away, and even when it was raining hard or snowing, one of us had to go. So we used as little water as we could. We’d heat it and fill the washbasin and give ourselves sponge or cloth baths—my mother would wash herself first with the clean water; next, my father would wash himself; and then Meinhard and I would have our turn. It didn’t matter if we had slightly darker water as long as we could avoid a trip to the well.
We had wood furniture, very basic, and a few electric lamps. My father liked pictures and antiques, but when we were growing up, these were luxuries he couldn’t afford. Music and cats brought liveliness to our house. My mother played the zither and sang us songs and lullabies, but it was my father who was the real musician. He could play all the wind and reed instruments: trumpets, flügelhorns, saxophones, clarinets. He also wrote music and was the conductor of the region’s gendarmerie band—if a police officer died anywhere in the state, the band would play at the funeral. Often on Sundays in summer, we’d go to concerts in the park, where he would conduct and sometimes play. Most of our relatives on his side were musical, but that talent never made it to Meinhard or me.
I’m not sure why we had cats instead of dogs—maybe because my mother loved them and they cost nothing because they caught their own food. But we always had lots of cats, running in and out, curling up here and there, bringing down half-dead mice from the attic to show off what great hunters they were. Everyone had his or her own cat to curl up with in bed at night—that was our tradition. At one point, we had seven cats. We loved the cats, but never too much, because there was no such thing as going to the vet. If one of the cats started falling over from being too sick or too old, we’d wait to hear the shot from the backyard—the sound of my father’s pistol. My mother, Meinhard, and I would then go out and make a grave with a little cross on top.
My mother had a black cat named Mooki that she constantly claimed was unique, although none of us could see why. One day when I was about ten, I was arguing with my mother about not wanting to do my homework. Mooki was nearby, curled up on the couch, as usual. I must have said something really uppity because my mother moved to smack me across the face. I saw it coming and tried to fend her off, but instead I hit her with the back of my arm. In a second, Mooki was off the couch—she leaped up between us and started clawing at my face.
pulled her off me and yelled, “Ow! What is this!?” Mom and I looked at each other and burst out laughing, even though I had blood running down my cheek. Finally, she had proof that Mooki was special.
- ASIN : 1451662440
- Publisher : Simon & Schuster (November 5, 2013)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 656 pages
- ISBN-10 : 9781451662443
- ISBN-13 : 978-1451662443
- Item Weight : 1.7 pounds
- Dimensions : 5.88 x 1.6 x 8.94 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #99,192 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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I read this book for mindset reasons. I wanted to read and absorb Arnold's mindset since I always found him to be quite an inspiration as a kid of the 80's and 90's. After all, the guy made a name for himself with his body, so there has so be some crazy motivational and mindset things to pick up.
At no point did I think Arnold was perfect, but I always admired s work ethic, enjoyed his movies, and always thought he wanted people to achieve great things. The first part of the book I found most intriguing. It's the Schwarzenegger we don't know. The immigrant, the son, and to some degree, the bodybuilder. That alone was incredibly inspiring and you can hear Arnold's trademark optimism throughout the good and bad times. There is a lot to this man. He's self-made and enjoys achieving goals as a sport.
I would recommend this on a couple of levels. Anyone who is looking for an extra kick in the butt, is into bodybuilding or weight training, or someone who enjoys the 80's or 90's movies.
Where the book trailed off was his political life and the end with his family life. It was actually a bit sad and depressing, and you can tell the book losses it's mojo. But there are some valuable lessons in those mistakes. The one thing is you get a better portrait of the good and bad of the man's character. I honestly believe he wanted to win the governorship more than he wanted to be governor. With his family, it's surprising but not surprising. You can tell at the end of the book the divorce took it's toll.
He married a Kennedy, became a Hollywood star and a politician and has a lot of stories about what its like to go from nothing and to slowly climb up the latter in life in more areas than one. He also is a pretty good thinker about things,,, meaning he often has ways to think outside the box in life and encourage himself in life and dream big and find ways to push himself through the hard times and become successful in every area of life. He also give us insight into things that not many other people know about or have experience with > such as making it in Hollywood and what its like to be involved in extremely competitive arenas in life. I really really liked this book. Its very inspiriting and a FUN read too.
meaning the stories of how he overcomes and progresses in life are interesting and inspiring. In fact, I dont know of many people who have come from such a hard beginning and to have made it through so many difficulties and came out so sucessful in so many areas of life.
Being Mr Universe, a fitness guru, a Hollywood celebrity loved by so many people, a household name, a politician, and involved in so many other things.... this guy has lived a fascinating life > and he tells the story of his life in a way that is very entertaining and educational and inspiriting. great book
The report was entitled "what American do you most admire and made the biggest difference in your life" it was a history class.
Every student in that class of 17 people picked a former President or picked someone inspired by the teachers lesson that day......
i picked Arnold Schwarzenegger,
Most kids looked at me like i was stupid, but everyone already knew i was different, and since I was use to being picked on, their judgement had no effect on me, but when the teacher came over to me because one of the kids complained to her by making fun of my choice, the teacher told me that I could NOT pick Arnold because he was not born in this country...
im amazed at the little child I was as I think back and I remember telling her, very kindly and polite, im sorry teacher (name left out) but Arnold is the only one that makes sense to me for this report and he has made an incredible difference in my life, and the lives of others. Arnold is the only actor I know who goes bowling with kids, give back to the community, works with special Olympics, and works with the President's of the USA with the fitness plans for kids.
The teacher looked at me with a face of shock and also concern because this was going against the rules of the report....
She then said
"you need to understand that your grade will be effected my this choice so I hope you know what your doing by picking someone who qas not born in this country"
When the report was finished I received my first "A" on any report ever and my presention wow the class but also pissed off the bullies that met up with me later....
Once I started reading this book I couldn't put it down. I had alway knew Arnold came from struggle but was postive throughout his struggle, i had always seen something in Arnold that was approachable, kind and encouraging and for a kid who went thru what I went thru, i needed a postive strong human example and Arnold was the example
This book proves that Arnold's life was very difficult but great things can come from difficult circumstances its sll about how we respond :) Arnolds responses were always proactive, postive, kind, caring and strong.
Awesome book and a Trutly inspiring life
happy at you Arnold, it would be cool to have lunch one day !
Life well lived and way to Live Life Out Loud big brother!!
Top reviews from other countries
So my hunt for inspiration began (just recently).
This is a great book. I especially like his rules in the last chapter.
He’s had to overcome many challenges whether social, financial, political or his own self.
He’s made remarkable successes, he’s done stupid things.
He sets a goal, sees it through to the end and masters it, then he looks for the next challenge, is always moving forward.
It proves Arnie is a human being with a passion to do well in life and compassion to help and encourage others to do the same.
Pre-reading the book, I was utterly dismissive of this man. Post-reading it, I am uplifted and inspired and a total admirer. It is an inspirational book on all levels.
I always looked at body-building as rather pointless and body-builders as having very ugly bodies. I was not interested. His description of that world and his part in it was fascinating and I have now bought 'Pumping Iron' to learn more.
I dismissed out of hand, Conan the Barbarian as a joke. Under no circumstances would I have considered seeing it back in the 80s or now. Reading the chapter about its making changed my mind. I have just bought the DVD because the film sounds fascinating and ground-breaking - (maybe not his acting though!). I am also considering getting some more of his films to view as well. (I have seen very few of them.) What a turn-around! This man is a salesman par excellance!
I think what I found so appealing about this book is that to my mind Arnie presents a very honest (al beit sanitized) view of himself. Ok it is, as one reviewer here says, short on salacious detail but I kind of think that is because Arnie as a personality does not dwell on things. He is very clear that he is a very optimistic, positive thinker. He makes mistakes and he moves on. Because of this trait, in his acknowledgements, he also is very clear that he had forgotten lots and needed the help of many people to remember again. I believed him. I also think that he avoided salacious detail because he did not want to hurt other people and wanted to respect their right to privacy too and I can respect that.
Arnie is quite clear about being machine-like in pursuing his goals. He will also do whatever it takes to win. And yet while he is clearly ruthless, he also comes across as a man of high intelligence, a man of principles, and of clear vision. He is very clear about how he became successful: what attributes he had and what mechanisms he put in place to achieve what he achieved. The overriding message was, set a goal, learn everything you need to learn to achieve what you want to do and then work hard to do it ('reps reps reps'). No magic formulae, or luck. This man worked for what he got and he does not pretend otherwise.
The other thing that surprised me about this book was just how important family was to Arnie. For someone so grounded in himself, and without dwelling on it, one got the sense of a man who really loves his family. For me, I would also call this book a love story. He clearly loves Maria, and I finished the book feeling very, very sad and let down that they broke up. I am with Arnie in very much hoping they get back together again, because the way Arnie writes about their relationship, they were a wonderful team and for me, it felt like a tragic end to a very special relationship. Of course that is his view, maybe Maria would say her years with him were terrible, and she was often alone, and resented the affairs. But I looked at the family photos and they all seemed so very happy together. I could not understand how she could walk away from such an extraordinary man with so much vision and so many worthwhile principles that he was willing to work for.
Another reviewer on this site said this book was overlong and needed editing particularly the political bits. I cannot disagree more. I found Arnie's period as governor to be fascinating. I had no idea about the problems of the political system in the US. It was fascinating to read about his courage in fighting for the things he believed in and his determination against all odds to bring change to California in every sphere of public need. Gosh! His energy was infectious, his ability to choose great people to work with him said much for his perceptiveness and wisdom about people, his lack of respect for partisan politics was inspiring and the only responsible way to be. If I were an American I would beg him to run for presidency and I would vote for him!
Fabulous, fabulous read. I will be telling anyone I know that they need to read this book. I wish some of our polis would also pick it up. I wonder now what is left for Arnie. I can imagine fixing on the next goal after achieving so much must be a huge question in his mind.
He really has lied a fascinating life, doing everything BIG, or not at all. Definitely worth a read, especially as T2 3D has just been released in the cinemas.