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The Great Santini

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  30,156 ratings  ·  1,241 reviews
Step into the powerhouse life of Bull Meecham. He's all Marine --- fighter pilot, king of the clouds, and absolute ruler of his family. Lillian is his wife -- beautiful, southern-bred, with a core of velvet steel. Without her cool head, her kids would be in real trouble. Ben is the oldest, a born athlete whose best never satisfies the big man. Ben's got to stand up, even f ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 440 pages
Published December 1st 1987 by Bantam (first published 1976)
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Average rating 4.15  · 
Rating details
 ·  30,156 ratings  ·  1,241 reviews

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Oct 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the only Conroy book that I've ever read.
It's been 25 years ago. I've not read it since. This thing broke my heart. It really did. It took me years to dispel the pain of these people. All these years later, I can't remember their names, but I still recall the pain. I've never read Pat Conroy since then. I'm probably doing myself a disservice, but I don't like being heartbroke. Once bitten, twice shy.
May 04, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: southern-fiction
Pat Conroy is one of those writers who can write only one story (John Irving and Amy Tan come to mind, as well). Conroy seems obsessed with the idea of a Southern family trying to navigate the high school experiences of a sensitive son and a smartass daughter. Again there is the angry, abusive father and the rather ineffective mother who is mostly concerned about what the neighbors think. Again there are themes of forgiveness and redemption and racial tension. Again someone gets raped. Again the ...more
J.K. Grice
Oct 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: southern-writers
THE GREAT SANTINI was my first Conroy book, and I enjoyed it immensely. He was a fine writer.
Oct 06, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Another semi-autobiographical book,by Pat Conroy. "The Great Santini" is Marine fighter pilot,"Bull Meecham". He is modeled on Pat Conroy's own,hard to please father. Meecham's son,Ben,constantly struggles to win his father's approval and never succeeds.

The book doesn't start off too well. The dialogue is pretty coarse,and vulgar. There is relatively little by way of a story,for hundreds of pages.

A military family moves to a new posting.As a family,they are pretty dysfunctional.The long sufferi
Jul 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Pat Conroy's thinly disguised autobiographical tale featuring Bull Meecham a hardcore Marine fighter pilot as the domineering and abusive husband and father of an oft relocating military family. The story is told by eldest son Ben, a teenager in the 1950's who is never quite able to appease his father and is often called on to defend his mother Lillian a gentile southern woman who tries to offer up some balance in harsh times. The book is hard to read at times, though Conroy was a master storyte ...more
Kim Kaso
Re-read this with On the Southern Literary Trail. The difference from reading this as a young woman with family in the military, and then as an older woman after serving in the Navy as an officer and also being married to a Naval officer and raising kids both while on active duty for 12 years & as a "dependent" wife overseas gave me so many different perspectives. I went through training, I served with Marines, I went to chief's initiations, officer happy hours, Mess Dinners, Navy & Marine Corps ...more
Annie Myers
Jul 14, 2007 rated it it was ok
Of all the Conroys I've read so far, this is my least favorite. The book jacket describes Bull Meacham as someone you should hate but will wind up loving, anyway - but that was not my experience. I found very little loveable about
"The Great Santini". The thing that amazed me was how brave his family was on those occasions when they stood up to him. While I don't doubt he loved his family, and maybe was even proud of them in a way, he was domineering and controlling and sometimes downright cruel

Description: Step into the powerhouse life of Bull Meecham. He’s all Marine—fighter pilot, king of the clouds, and absolute ruler of his family. Lillian is his wife—beautiful, southern-bred, with a core of velvet steel. Without her cool head, her kids would be in real trouble. Ben is the oldest, a born athlete whose best never satisfies the big man. Ben’s got to stand up, even fight back, against a father who doesn’t give in—not to his men, not to his wife, and certainly not to his son. Bull Mee
Oct 27, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The story of Bull Meecham, a Marine pilot, and his complex relationships with family and The Corps.

Pat Conroy is an amazing writer. The Houston Chronicle is quoted on the back of my book as saying "Reading Pat Conroy is like watching Michelangelo paint the Sistine Chapel," and I don't think I could articulate the experience any better. I laughed until tears ran down my face and in the same chapter I cried for the sheer pain the characters experienced.

The Great Santini is Bull Meecham. And throu
Jan 24, 2021 rated it really liked it
The Great Santini is perhaps Pat Conroy’s second most famous novel after Prince of Tides.

This is a well written but disturbing book due to the mental and physical cruelty inflicted by the Great Santini. It is also nuanced in a genuine way with occasional love mixed with the hate. Not so different in that regard from millions of American families. The Great Santini, as Pat Conroy admits, is largely drawn from his own father who was a Marine colonel and highly decorated aviator in WWII and Vietnam
Tom Mathews
I’ll say upfront that The Great Santini holds the title for the best book I’ve read this year and has a very good chance of retaining that title all year.
Santini is the late Pat Conroy's first novel and he always claimed that it is largely autobiographical. In fact, in his penultimate book, The Death of Santini: The Story of a Father and His Son, Conroy describes his actual life with his family and his father, Marine fighter pilot Col. Don Conroy, the original Great Santini. This nickname even
Brett C
Feb 02, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: south-carolina
This semi-fictional story is Pat Conroy's time growing up in Beaufort, South Carolina. I say "semi-fictional" because he transposed much of his life during that time (as a teenager) into the story's main character, Ben Meechum. It is a story of frustration, abuse, confusion, loyalty, and the hard road of growing up in a dysfunctional family. I enjoyed this book over the Prince of Tides, but not as much as The Lords of Discipline! ...more
Jul 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: usa
I’d never paid any attention to Pat Conroy until a few years ago when I read one of my favorite books of all time Gone with the Wind. Conroy wrote the beautiful introduction to that book. My rule with classics, not that I read them as often as I probably should, is to read the introduction after completing the book. Once I finished “Gone with the Wind” and then read Conroy’s introduction, I knew that this would be an author that I would like. In that introduction, he describes his mother reading ...more
I enjoyed this unevenly crafted coming of age tale of growing up in the south in the 60's. On one level this is an examination of one family's struggle to love a "hard to love" father who never learned to show the love he so obviously had for his children. On another level, I think that this book is just Pat Conroy's way of making some money off the therapy work he so obviously needed.

In the early chapters its made clear why this maverick fighter pilot is hated but as the story continues, and d
Dec 08, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
"They love their families with their hearts and souls and they wage war against them to prove it."

Marines - and specifically Bull Meechum, "... the greatest marine fighter pilot to ever crap between two shoes!" - are fierce and loyal, difficult and unpredictable; they rule by fear, demand respect, and inspire admiration. It's not easy to be a marine family, but it is especially difficult to be the family of Bull Meechum, the self-proclaimed Great Santini.

This is really the coming-of-age story o
Bob Mayer
Jan 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
I saw the movie before I read the book. Pat Conroy is the master of the low country when it comes to fiction. Like his character in this book, he moved there as a Marine Corps brat and his father was stationed at Marine Air Station Beaufort. I lived on Hilton Head, on the Intracoastal for several years and the ferry to Dafuskie Island passed by every day and I could see the island to the south along the water. Conroy taught on Dafuskie (The Water Is Wide) and people there still remember him as a ...more
Nov 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Pat Conroy (1945-2016) was one of America's most acclaimed and widely read authors and the New York Times-bestselling writer of eleven novels and memoirs.
Although a fictional novel, Pat Conroy's writing was heavily influenced by his personal life experiences.
THE GREAT SANTINI depicts a Marine Corps pilot who is a domineering father often physically and emotionally abusive to his children. This is an intense, dramatic, passionate and sometimes humorous read. It was made into a major film.
4 sta
Fred Shaw
Jul 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
First let me say I am a big Pat Conroy fan, and have read 90% of his works. Secondly, this is my second time reading the Great Santini. (I read my favorite books again and again.) Thirdly, it is generally known that this story is about Conroy’s father and his abusive nature.

That being said, this is a coming of age novel of Ben Meechum and his senior year in high school in Ravenel, SC. Ravenel is a small southern coastal town near Charleston, S.C.

Throughout his life Ben was under the influence
Apr 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Brats
I saw the movie before I read the book, and it was the first time I saw my experiences as a military brat played out in a work of fiction. I recognized the shifting family dynamics and the insistence on appearances to the exclusion of all else. I experienced the warrior culture, the comradeship of a family in opposition to the world every time we transfered, too, and moves from one alien environment to another. My dad was no Bull Meecham, but he was a piece of work. Conroy helps me remember.
Dec 11, 2011 rated it did not like it
Bull Meecham is undoubtedly Pat Conroy’s most explosive character—a man you should hate, but a man you will love. -cover summary

I did not love him, there was only hate in my heart.
Steven Walle
Nov 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book. More on it later.
Book Concierge
Lt Col Bull Meecham is a Marine fighter pilot – No – he is the GREATEST Marine Fighter Pilot. Just ask his family or any of the men serving under him. This novel gives us a glimpse of one Marine’s family. Lillian is the gentle, Southern-born wife who tempers her husband’s erratic drive with a cool, steady demeanor. She is the buffer between Bull and their children. But as their first-born, Ben, moves toward high school graduation, he is increasingly at odds with his father. No matter how he exce ...more
Farnoosh Brock
Dec 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Pure poetry. I am stunned by the author's powers of description. They say a good writer can describe anything - the most boring, innate object that you are most disinterested in and there were a few of those in this book - and captivate and mesmerize you. Well, Pat Conroy talked about subjects I didn't have a care in. No offense to Mr. Conroy or anyone else, I lived in SC after moving here from Iran via Turkey for one too many years. It was a culture shock on so many levels that it has left a pe ...more
Lawrence G. Miller
Jan 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
Pat Conroy is a master story teller and one of the best descriptive authors around. His use of words is so good, sometime I find myself reading a passage a couple of times so to savor it. This is the third Conroy book I have read and they all have some very dark elements within the story. But there is much beauty as well, especially in how he relates to the American South.

Many years ago I had the opportunity to meet Pat Conroy and speak with him. He was a speaker at a small marketing conference
Cassandra Jones
Jul 14, 2014 rated it it was ok
I love Pat Conroy & two of his books, The Prince of Tides & South of Broad, are among my favorites of all time. Sadly, I couldn't get into this one. ...more
Couldn't read it again. First time, it hit close to home, so to speak.
Oldest uncle was a career marine, stationed in North Carolina (and WWII Island Fighting and Korea) ...
Never really became a Conroy fan, but identified with his teaching experience ... Water is Wide, and "Don't Push the River"
Larry Bassett
Jan 30, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, kindle
As is usual these days I experience this book in the audible format following along with the e-book. This is the most impressive audible performance that I can recall. Easily a five star audible rating.

One of my rules is that if a book makes me cry I give it five stars. I break that rule for the first time I think with this work. When excuse is that I didn’t really cry although I did have during a verbal Confrontation between father and son have pretty moist eyes and that feeling in my throat. I
Mahoghani 23
Jan 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
When I started reading this book, I wanted to take Bull Meechum and beat the daylights out of him. He was a brute, could be very violent at times and a father all rolled into one. Everyone in his family feared him including his wife.

The story depicted the life of a family whose father was a marine fighter pilot. The abuse suffered from their father to each family member, molded each of them differently but brought them close together. The Meechum family:Bull, Lillian (their mother), Ben (oldest
Jun 07, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, teenbooks, own
I love this book and think it is one of the more hysterical novels I have read, yet everytime I try to explain what is funny about it to people I get weird looks.

I have the feeling, that to enjoy this book to the degree I have, one must have experienced a 'scary' parent. Not necessarily an abusive one, or some sort of criminal, but one that allows their children to grow up in an environment where morbid humor rules all.
Apr 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: all readers
Recommended to Claudia by: Danny
Conroy said his mother told the judge at her divorce hearing that he wouldn't need to call any of the children to testify for her. She gave him a copy of this book and said, 'this is all you need to know.' Santini is bigger than life, fascinating, abusive, mercurial. Santini WAS Conroy's father. Conroy got the last word. ...more
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Pat Conroy (1945 - 2016) was the New York Times bestselling author of two memoirs and seven novels, including The Prince of Tides, The Great Santini, and The Lords of Discipline. Born the eldest of seven children in a rigidly disciplined military household, he attended the Citadel, the military college of South Carolina. He briefly became a schoolteacher (which he chronicled in his memoir The Wate ...more

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