This question is answered in the Wikipedia article on the shell theorem. The gist is that it is not the total.
But going beyond that, I think your question actually reflects a misunderstanding of what "electric field" means. The electric field is something which has a value at every point in space. If you try to calculate a total, e.g. by integrating the electric field over some region, the quantity you get is not electric field anymore. (If you integrate over a surface, the thing you get is called electric flux.) So when textbooks talk about the electric field being zero, they automatically mean that it is zero at every point in the region.
For comparison, you can also find cases where the electric flux - again, that's the "total" of electric field over a surface - is zero, but the electric field is not zero at every point on the surface. You'll see that textbooks actually use the word "flux", not "field", when they are talking about the thing that is zero. (Or they should, anyway.)