As Arnold Schwarzenegger makes the rounds of the late-night talk shows, pleading his continued love for his ex-wife Maria and promoting his memoir, â€śTotal Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story,â€ťÂ potential readers may want to know one thing: how much is in the book about his affair with his familyâ€™s housekeeper, and the illegitimate son he fathered eleven years ago? The answer: not much. Before he was The Governator, before he was Mr. Universe, Schwarzenegger was the son of a small-town police chief in Austria, dreaming of fame, American-style. Despite his huge ambition, even he probably couldnâ€™t see the twists his life would take, from his roles in bodybuilding films to beating out O.J. Simpson for the role of The Terminator to his involvement with the Shriver family and career as a California Republican. While his memoir lacks the deep-dish gossip readers may crave, it has plenty of inside showbiz-and-politics details that reveal how the leap from sound stage to state capitol was just a small hop. For other performers turned politicians, it was an equally natural transition.
"American Rebel: The Life of Clint Eastwood" by Marc Eliot
The former mayor of Carmel, California, has a new movie out, but most of the press heâ€™s getting these days is for his performance at the Republican National Convention acting opposite an empty chair. Eastwood, a.k.a. Dirty Harry, a.k.a. the Oscar-winning director of Unforgiven and Million Dollar Baby, is not just a major player in Hollywood. He also is a long-time Republican Party supporter, with ties to Schwarzenegger, Bobby Shriver, and Ronald Reagan, and a natural touch with voters: during his one term as mayor of Carmel, he overturned a ban on eating ice cream in public. In this biography, Eliot focuses on Eastwoodâ€™s personal life, from his early years in Oakland, California, through his two marriages and his continued involvement in film and politics.
"Dutch: A Memoir of Ronald Reagan" by Edmund Morris
This controversial memoir was written by Morris with the cooperation of Reagan but also includes fictional characters and imagined scenes, including a fictionalized version of Morris who goes to college with Reagan. Drawing on fifteen years of research, Morris covers Reaganâ€™s beginnings as an athlete turned actor in Hollywood through his entrance into politics and his presidency, including meetings with Gorbachev.Â He also deals with Reaganâ€™s acknowledgment of his Alzheimerâ€™s disease towards the end of his life.
"Inside the Ropes with Jesse Ventura" by Tom Hauser
If a professional wrestler making a successful bid for governor seems like the stuff of political satire, Hauser shows how it became reality when Jesse â€śThe Bodyâ€ť Ventura was elected governor of Minnesota in 1998. Hauser had the advantage of seeing the campaign from the beginning, when Ventura announced his candidacy, through his election and the aftermath, as Ventura became an even more outspoken and colorful politician than he had been as a long-haired entertainer with oiled biceps.
If some political memoirs read like satire (see above), rest assured, Frankenâ€™s book is pure speculation. In it, the former Saturday Night Live star turned Minnesota senator imagines his bid to become the countryâ€™s first Jewish president, running on the single, hot-button issue of campaign fees. Though the book is not to be taken seriously, Franken believes the political process is no laughing matter, and uses his humor to offer a critique of presidential elections that remains relevant today. Â Fiction became truth in 2008, when Franken won a highly contested race for the Senate seat and was sworn in after a recount and lawsuit by his opponent -- just the sort of situation â€śPresidentâ€ť Franken might have found himself in.