Picks and Pans Review: Fantastic
The Life of Arnold Schwarzenegger
by Laurence Learner
Has there ever been a politician with a weirder career trajectory than Arnold Schwarzenegger? To hear Learner tell it in this delicious, unauthorized biography, Schwarzenegger as a teenager was already plotting the path from physical to political muscle: “I want to win the Mr. Universe many times,” he reportedly told friends. “I want to go into films…and then I want to go into politics.” Learner suggests that his subject has gotten where he is by being underestimated by the media, and he documents every foible—from his steroid use and admiration of Hitler to his staggering crudeness with women. Fascinating too is his courting of Maria Shriver. “People have always written that Arnold got himself a Kennedy,” reflected Maria. “No. He and I fell in love. He wasn’t finished growing and he saw in me someone who could grow with him and could help.” And that is the mystery of Schwarzenegger: He was often wildly narcissistic and thoughtless, yet people wanted to help him. Maybe that’s the definition of charisma.