The worst part about this book was that it had to end. As I was nearing the end of the book, I had a physical reaction of anxiety that the story would end. Part of this feeling certainly is tied to Arnold age and the understanding that one day, he too will be terminated.....and this made me sad.
I grew up on Arnold's films like many other people. I didn't follow his bodybuilding career much, but I was an avid follower of his film and political career. I was hesitant to even read this book that might potentially damage the image and respect I already had for Arnold, however after reading a friend's review on the book, I was compelled to read the book.
To start I never knew much of Arnold's bodybuilding career. I had seen Pumping Iron, knew the stories behind it, but that was pretty much it. I was thrilled to find that not only did the book provide Arnold's story from the beginning of his childhood in rural Austria, but the book when into great length and detail about Arnold's first steps into bodybuilding and the motivation behind them. The story is told in such detail and enthusiasm that the read can almost see Arnold writing on the chalkboard everyday to determine what work outs he was going to do for the day. I could see Arnold at the beach in his "gladiator days" with his friends working out and hanging at the beach. The stories are told so vividly that Arnold's earl life and bodybuilding career ended up being one of the most fascinating parts of the book for me since I knew little to none of this section of his life.
It was really inspiring to hear how a boy from a rural village in Austria with no heat and no indoor plumbing defied all odds and avoided so many traps to end up in California. Of course Arnold doesn't stop his rise as a top bodybuilder in California as one of his preexisting goals was to become a famous movie star. I thought the film career section of the book would have been the most interesting to me as that is what I know Arnold best for and what I'm most familiar with in his life. However it is Arnold's stories of how he achieved his goals in bodybuilding, business, film and politics that was the most interesting to me. At times the book reads more like a Tony Robbins motivation book than anything else.
There are so many practical life stories, examples and takeaways from this book that can be applicable to anyone's life. Arnold's thoughts on identifying one's goals and how to achieve them were one of the highlights of the book that I found myself constantly thinking about and how I can apply them to my life and my goals.
While I was reading the book, I must have told a dozen or more people that the book was quickly becoming one of my favorite books and that it was a must read. Well now that I completed the book, I stand by my statement. Not only is this the best autobiographies I've ever read, but this book is one of the best books I've ever read and I intend on buying copies and gifting them to some of my friends that I feel can benefit from Arnold's messages and themes told throughout the story and told in such an interesting and captivating way.
I think it helps that I was an Arnold fan to begin with that helped me enjoy the story so much and by the end of the book I've now become even more impressed with the man's achievements. With all that being said, I think anyone can enjoy this tale of rags to riches and come away with a few new gems of knowledge on how to approach and handle life.
I am very grateful for having read this book and I look forward to reading it again one day.