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The Great Santini [Kindle Edition]

Pat Conroy
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (518 customer reviews)

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Book Description

The bestselling Pat Conroy novel—now available as an ebook

The moving portrait of a son’s struggle to escape the iron fist of his volatile military father

Marine Colonel Bull Meecham commands his home like a soldiers’ barracks. Cold and controlling but also loving, Bull has complicated relationships with each member of his family—in particular, his eldest son, Ben. Though he desperately seeks his father’s approval, Ben is determined to break out from the Colonel’s shadow. With guidance from teachers at his new school, he strives to find the courage to stand up to his father once and for all.
Inspired by Conroy’s own relationship with his father, The Great Santini is a captivating and unflinching portrayal of modern family life and a moving story of a son becoming a man.


Editorial Reviews


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

“God preserve Pat Conroy.” —The Boston Globe

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

Product Details

  • File Size: 3012 KB
  • Print Length: 450 pages
  • Publisher: Open Road Media (August 2, 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003Y3BCRU
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,508 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
193 of 200 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More autobiographical than you will know... October 8, 2004
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.
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55 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful reading 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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55 of 59 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Growing Up Marine 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
5.0 out of 5 stars Scarlett O'Hara and the Beast of Ravenel 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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Should be required reading
Riveting book that artfully portrays the family dynamics between a 17-year old son, his southern belle mother, 3 siblings and an overbearing marine-pilot father who engenders... Read more
Published 7 days ago by WiFiGi
5.0 out of 5 stars Catholic Catechism
Growing up in Northeast Mississippi I could relate to the nuns who came to teach during the week when there was no Catholic school. Catechism was every Saturday morning. Ugh ! Read more
Published 9 days ago by George F. Maynard,III
5.0 out of 5 stars Was the change I thought I saw real?
I have always loved Pat Conroy's books, but had not read The Great Santini. I was inspired to read it after listening to The Death of Santini. Read more
Published 14 days ago by Daryl Kim Hamblin, PhD
5.0 out of 5 stars A memorable read
Pat Conroy was acclaimed as a novelist after the publication of "The Great Santini". It is a story, really a memoir of growing up with a domineering Marine fighter pilot as... Read more
Published 14 days ago by Kenneth Petrucci
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Conroy book I have read.
This book was my fifth Pat Conroy book I have read and it is my favorite. The back of the book says that Bull Meechum is a character you will hate but learn to love and I think... Read more
Published 17 days ago by Kristofer Ryan
5.0 out of 5 stars Hilariously funny, yet sadly believable description of family...
I rated the book high as I could hardly put it down. I got a bit tired of the constant banter of the family member sarcasm filled conversations, but I also found some of the family... Read more
Published 21 days ago by Paula L. Ashley
5.0 out of 5 stars Conroy has revealed the Great Santini's hypocrisy
Meeting Bull Meecham for the first time, the reader is intrigued (not immediately perplexed) by the vision that animates his character. Read more
Published 21 days ago by Patrick Russo
2.0 out of 5 stars Cannot recommend this book.
I did not enjoy this book at all. There was too much trash talk!!! I was a teenager in the 60s and we did not talk that way.
Published 22 days ago by L. Main
3.0 out of 5 stars The jacket describes Bull as a "man you will hate, but a man you will...
Let me start by saying that I am a HUGE fan of Pat Conroy's writing. The jacket describes Bull as a "man you will hate, but a man you will love" and the book only brought... Read more
Published 26 days ago by cynthia edick
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Pretty good.
Published 28 days ago by Amazon Customer
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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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