"I'd be selling, selling, selling," he says in the book. "People would be buying, and I was always a huge hit."
Later, when voters rejected a series of ballot measures he promoted in 2009, Schwarzenegger described his shortcoming as a promotional one: "My salesmanship failed me."
Schwarzenegger adviser Adam Mendelsohn said the point of the book and surrounding publicity is "reflecting on a life that has been an iconic one." Of the former governor's decision to address his infidelity, Mendelsohn said Schwarzenegger "didn't think it was fair to write a book and ignore his failures, and just write about his successes."
Nowhere in the book does Schwarzenegger address perhaps his most heavily criticized act as governor, his decision, as he left office, to reduce the manslaughter sentence of political friend Fabian Núñez's son.
A Sacramento Superior Court judge last month called the action "repugnant" and an abuse of his discretion, but not illegal.
As a politician, Schwarzenegger says, he was at times underestimated.
He describes a trip to the White House in early 2003 in which political adviser Karl Rove told him there would never be a recall election and that then-Gov. Gray Davis wouldn't be unseated if there was.
Schwarzenegger says Rove introduced him to Condoleezza Rice, then national security adviser, as "someone here who is interested in running for governor ... and I wanted you to meet her because this is our candidate for 2006."
"How could Rove have been so wrong?" Schwarzenegger asks. "He was a political genius, and he dismissed me! And he dismissed the recall!"
Rice, who later because U.S. secretary of state, has no recollection of the conversation Schwarzenegger described, her office said. She has repeatedly said she is not interested in elected office.
Later in 2003, Schwarzenegger says, Shriver began to "tremble and cry" when he told her in a Jacuzzi one evening he wanted to run for governor.
He says Shriver only changed her mind after her mother, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, told her to "snap out of it," and that, "We women in our family always support the men when they want to do something!"
Schwarzenegger says his first impression of Davis, whom he unseated in 2003, was that of a "skinny, reserved guy, not much of a showman," albeit one who "got off to a strong start when he took office in 1999."
By the time of the recall, however, Schwarzenegger says, "I began to despise everything about Gray Davis."
"When I saw his picture in the newspaper, I didn't see the picture, I saw a monster," Schwarzenegger says. "I had a plan. I visualized myself taking him down."
He says he and Davis later became friends, that he "realized it was hard for any governor to make the changes that were needed."
By the time he left office, Schwarzenegger's public approval rating was on the floor, hitting 23 percent by the end of his second term.
He says in the book that this was a reflection of "widespread unhappiness and misery about the economy," and that "at least it wasn't as low as the Legislature's approval rating of 17 percent."
He says his administration, despite lingering state budget problems, "made a hell of a lot of progress."
Last week, at the University of Southern California, where his public policy institute is housed, Schwarzenegger said he accomplished as governor about half of what he wanted to do, hoping through the institute to accomplish the rest.
His assertion is that dialogue can overcome fierce partisanship in addressing political reform, global warming, education and other matters.
Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster, a Democrat who participated in a panel at the institute last week, said he is skeptical of anyone's ability to overcome partisanship but that, "I'm happy to have anybody try."
He suggested Schwarzenegger, at least, could draw more attention to the issue than most politicians.
"Let's be candid here: He has enormous celebrity," Foster said. "I hope that's useful. ... I wish him well."