Reviews for Be useful: seven tools for life (Book)

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

The famous actor and former governor argues that vision, hard work, and resilience are the answers to social decay. Schwarzenegger, now 75, is a difficult figure to categorize. Many observers see him as a hypermasculine cliché. Others, after his period as governor of California, see him as a chameleon who spouted conservative rhetoric while implementing liberal policies. All these people will be surprised by this book, in which he distills his journey to success into a self-help manual. The book is not an autobiography; he has already written the story of his life in his 2012 book, Total Recall—although he often draws on personal experiences. The author is worried about the growing number of lost, lonely, and depressed people. He emphasizes that success is whatever each person wants it to be, but the common requirements are a clear vision, work ethic, resilience, a capacity for continual learning, and, ultimately, a willingness to use success as a way to help others. As governor, he increased funding for vocational training, and he believes that many people find their life purpose in making and building things. As for goals, he advises against having a Plan B because it often leads to the failure of Plan A. His references to his achievements can seem boastful (a problem that plagued his memoir), although he makes a point of thanking his mentors, Hollywood colleagues, friends, and even his ex-wife, and his accomplishments are hard to deny. Some readers, however, might argue with his view that success is a matter of positive thinking while ignoring structural impediments. In any case, the text is a solid read, and Schwarzenegger does not shy away from using colorful language to get his point across. It might not have all the answers for social recovery, but it is not a bad place to start. Schwarzenegger unpacks the tools for success with a wry sense of humor and broad view of the world. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.