What it lacks in introspection, however, “Total Recall” makes up for in recounting successes. And by the Arnold’s count, there were many. The author divides the book roughly into the three career arcs of his life – bodybuilding, acting, and politics.
He devotes almost 200 pages to his bodybuilding career, a line of work that brought him from Austria to the US and launched him into a bigger life. Here, Schwarzenegger writes about his seven Mr. Olympia titles, his use of steroids (they were legal at the time), and his sweet but strange Austrian upbringing that laid the foundation for his bodybuilding. Among descriptions of his Austrian childhood is Schwarzenegger's recollection that he and his brother were forced to do sit-ups to earn their breakfast each morning. (And, incidentally, a young Schwarzenegger had taped bodybuilders to his ceiling instead of pinups, causing his concerned mother to consult with a doctor about her assuredly red-blooded, heterosexual boy.)
Bodybuilding, of course, launched Schwarzenegger into Hollywood, where he leaped from “Pumping Iron” to “Stay Hungry” to “Conan the Barbarian,” a progression that cemented his reputation as an action star. And then, apparently, things got hazy for the newly minted celebrity. According to The New York Times, Schwarzenegger and his co-writer Petre “had to brush up on the details of his acting career by reading biographies and movie journals; his memory for slights, triumphs and salaries seems more reliable than his memory for work.”