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Comment: 2002 Bantam Pub. softcover. Same year and ISBN, but different cover art than shown. Tanning on page edges. Minor wear on edges. Great otherwise! No writing or highlighting!
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The Great Santini: A Novel Paperback – March 26, 2002

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Dial Press Trade Paperback; Reprint edition (March 26, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553381555
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553381559
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (469 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #34,864 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“Reading Pat Conroy is like watching Michelangelo paint the Sistine Chapel.”—Houston Chronicle

“Robust and vivid . . . full of feeling.”—Newsday

“Tender, raucous, often hilarious.”—Booklist

“A fine, funny, brawling book.”—The National Observer

“Stinging authenticity . . . a book that won’t quit.”—The Atlanta Journal

“[Pat] Conroy has captured a different slice of America in this funny, dramatic novel.”—Richmond News-Leader
“Conroy takes aim at our darkest emotions, lets the arrow fly and hits the bull’s-eye almost every time.”—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

From the Publisher

"Robust and vivid... full of feeling." -- Newsday

"Stinging authenticity... a book that won't quit." -- Atlanta Journal

"A tender, raucous and often hilarious book." -- Booklist

"Conroy has captured a different slice of America in this funny, dramatic novel." -- Richmond News -leader --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

Intriguing story well written with good character development.
Janet D. Allan
I'm always so amazed by Conroy's ability to pen a love story...his love for his characters and storytelling shines through his writing and imagery.
Bull Meecham wants his family to run like the Marine Corps. which he so proudly loves.
Rock Troy

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

190 of 197 people found the following review helpful By Cynthia K. Robertson TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 8, 2004
Format: Paperback
All of Pat Conroy's books have one foot in his childhood, and none is more autobiographical than The Great Santini. Colonel Bull Meecham is a legendary Marine fighter pilot whose military successes are almost as many as his personal excesses. Lillian Meecham is a Southern gentlewoman with a love of literature. After moving from base to base each year, the Meecham's finally settle down in fictional Ravenel, SC (Beaufort in real life).

The Colonel rules his fighter squadron and his family with an iron first. While this technique is successful in motivating his pilots, it has disastrous effects on his wife and children. His cruelty (both mental and physical) is enough to crush even the strongest soul. While he chides Ben for being a sissy, he suppresses Ben's attempts to act like a man. Yet, the Colonel can do endearing things, like when he gives Ben his original flight jacket on his 18th birthday. No wonder Ben has a love-hate relationship with his old man.

At a new school, Ben quickly establishes himself as a decent scholar and a talented basketball player. Several teachers and his principal see the potential in young Ben, and give him the love and mentoring he could never get from the Colonel. They teach him the importance of standing up for what he believes and to be his own man. When one of Ben's friends is threatened, Ben defies his dad and goes to his aid. In doing so, he becomes more of a man than his father will ever be.

The Great Santini is a fabulous story, and nobody writes with as much passion and beauty as Pat Conroy. Conroy takes us through the emotional gamut from belly laughs to tears and back again.
Read more ›
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53 of 56 people found the following review helpful By BeachReader on October 5, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This was Pat Conroy's first novel and I believe this is his only book written in the third person.
His writing is beautiful, and in my opinion, has grown even more so in the last 25 + years since he wrote this. I respect him because he has not flooded the market with his books like so many other best-selling authors.
This is the story of the Meecham family: Bull, the father, a Marine jet-fighter pilot who refers to himself as "the great Santini"-- as in "The great Santini has spoken"--he is the *law* in the family; Lillian, the mother, a Southern belle who tries to soften her husband's pronouncements and shield her four children from his sometimes-violent wrath; Ben, their son, who is a senior in high school and has a love/hate relationship with Bull; Mary Anne, one year younger than Ben, smart-mouthed and unattractive; and the youngest children, Matt and Karen.
I thought the characters were well-drawn and fully fleshed-out. By the end of this book, I felt that I really *knew* them well. The exploration of the father/son, father/children relationship was masterfully done.
The locale was not as important to this novel as it was in his other books, especially "Beach Music" and "The Prince of Tides". In this respect, the book could have taken place any where...whereas in the aforementioned books, the locales were almost characters in themselves.
All in all, an outstanding book, one that made me sad and happy, made me laugh and cry.
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54 of 58 people found the following review helpful By Bonnie Hutton on March 31, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This was an excellent book. I found this book personally very interesting, because I grew up in a Marine Family also. Many of Mr. Conroys general descriptions of Marine life were dead on. For example, Mr Conroys description of Col. Meecham loading his family in the car leaving for a new duty station before the sun comes up, reminded me so much of many of the moves we made, incredible but yet so true, it made me laugh. Col Meecham was an extreme character, but many of his phrases and philosophies were familiar to me through some of the people I met growing up Marine. Not only that, his descriptions of Beaufort South Carolina, were also excellent. It put you right back there. You could almost smell the southern sea air and the swamps as you read. The book not only confronted the issues of a family trying to meet the impossibly high standards of thier Marine father, it also confronted the issue of racism in the south. There were many complicated emotional issues in the book. A lot of them do not get resolved, but it was the kind of book that makes you think for a while after you have finished it. I would highly recommend it to anyone.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey D. Palmatier on January 14, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
From what Pat Conroy has said in numerous interviews, it is obvious that his novel The Great Santini is a thinly disguised autobiographical account of his own childhood as a Marine brat. High school senior Ben Meecham, Pat Conroy's fictional counterpart, is the son of a volatile Marine fighter pilot 'Bull' Meecham, whose nom de guerre is 'The Great Santini', which, by the way, was also Pat Conroy dad's nom de guerre in real life. Pat Conroy once said that his dad was Zeus and his mom was Hera, and that his first memory was of his dad laughing and hitting his mother in face while she tried to stab him with a knife. Boy, oh boy, if this novel is an accurate representation of what went on in the Conroy household, then he is right about the true identity of his parents! The Great Santini acts, according to his wife Lillian, like a living, breathing Marine recruitment poster. Santini is a man of contradictions, a man who loves his wife and his children more than anything else in the world, but you wouldn't know it from the brutal manner by which he occasionally treats them. By the way, if you saw the wonderful film adaptation of Conroy's novel, you were probably left with the impression that Santini is the only parent in this household that is screwed up. Unlike the movie version, in the novel Santini's wife Lillian, who means well, is in her own way just as screwed up as her husband. Like Santini, Lillian also loves her children more than anything in the world, but she often acts like a demented Scarlett O'Hara. (Indeed, part of the tension between Santini and his wife comes from the fact that she is a Southern Belle who loves her cultural roots, while Santini is a purposely uncouth Yankee from Chicago who despises everything Southern.Read more ›
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More About the Author

Pat Conroy is the author of eight previous books: The Boo, The Water is Wide, The Great Santini, The Lords of Discipline, The Prince of Tides, Beach Music, My Losing Season, and The Pat Conroy Cookbook: Recipes of My Life. He lives in Fripp Island, South Carolina. Photo copyright: David G. Spielman

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