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The Great Santini

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  25,678 Ratings  ·  1,030 Reviews
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
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ebook, 431 pages
Published August 24th 2010 by Open Road Media (first published 1976)
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Community Reviews

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Tasha
May 04, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Camie
Jul 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Bettie☯


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
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Jen
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
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Annie Myers
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
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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
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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 & Mari ...more
Bob Mayer
Jan 07, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Diamond Cowboy
Nov 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book. More on it later.
Stephen
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
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Marguerite
Apr 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
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  ·  review of another edition
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
Cassandra Jones
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.
Lawrence G. Miller
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
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Mahoghani 23
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
...more
Mauri
Jun 07, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: teenbooks, favorites, 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.
Claudia
Apr 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Mona
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.
J.K. Grice
Oct 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: southern-writers
This was my first Conroy book, and I enjoyed it immensely. He was a fine writer.
George
Apr 29, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
INCREDIBLY GOOD STORYTELLING.

"In war, there ain't no morals. There are just winners, losers, and those that got their asses fried sunny side up."—page 205

Pat Conway's novel, THE GREAT SANTINI, is amazingly well constructed and well written. A very engaging and compelling read.

Protagonist, Marine, Fighter Pilot, Yankee, Irish, Catholic, Bull Meecham, is a character out of time and place, who is hard not to like—and equally hard, or harder, not to dislike. A warrior without a war. A bull in the
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Keith
May 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book in my opinion. It is well written, funny, compelling and unfortunately, very close to reality for many military kids. There is a dominant marine father, a beautiful Southern Belle for a wife and 3 smart-ass kids who are constantly trying to appease their father while trying not to be abused by him, mentally and physically. The writing is superb. You could open to the book to any page and find evidence of the outstanding writing. The plot is time driven over the senior year of our hero ...more
Margie
Jul 10, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Margie by: Mark
Shelves: fiction, abandoned
I gave it the old Air Force try. At about page 33 I told myself that I would read to page 100, just to give it a chance. I literally dropped it about page 70. Just couldn't do any more.

It may have a good story line, as many people obviously enjoy the book. But I just couldn't get past the flat characters, insipid dialogue, and uninspired writing. It's not that I can't handle unlikable characters (cf. Wuthering Heights), it's that I'm not willing to put up with bad writing.

Unfortunately I picked
...more
Lizzymac
Dec 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Roz,

I am envious. This is one my favorite authors and I love every single book especially this one. DOn't see the movie, though, it is well acted but not true to the book.

Enjoy!

Liz
Debby
Jun 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 5-star-books
This is the first book I've read by Pat Conroy. WOW!!
I had an uncle who was a career Marine. Bull Meachum (the Gret Santini) remined me ofmy uncle> My aunt and two male cousins reminded me of Mechum's family. Constantly ealking in eggshelss around him and knowing instinctively what would set him off and what your role was and the consequences for not obeying the very abusive family dynamic. Gave me the creeps to be around my uncle when I was a young kid. I had that same feeling while reading
...more
B. R. Reed
Dec 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book and story took me back to another time in my life. I first read the book circa 1978-79 on a cot in the desert of a God forsaken place called 29 Palms MCB (the "stumps" as we called it back then). I was a young lieutenant in the Marine Corps at that time. The book recalled all the marines I once knew and grand traditions such as Friday afternoon officer calls (drinking), Marine Corps balls, mess nights and the esprit de corps. Good times. I think I enjoyed the second reading of this boo ...more
Ellyn Stangarone
Aug 30, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ellyn Stangarone
Ms. Wheeler
Honors English 2
30 August 2009
Book Review
The Great Santini

After reading this book one feels like they actually grew up in a Marine Family. The book The Great Santini, by Pat Conroy, is one of the best books I have ever read. Pat Conroy is the #1 New York Times best selling author. This book shows us the life of children growing up as military brats. The main characters are Bull the marine father, Lillian the mother, Ben the oldest child, Mary Anne the second child, Kar

...more
Joseph
Reading this book made me realize what kind of Dad I don't want to be. The Great Santini is Bull Beacham, marine pilot, father to four kids, the oldest being Ben. Conroy does a great job illuminating the life of a military family. Maybe this is a typical family at least from that time period, but it is still a compelling read. Bull Meacham is loyal to being a marine fighter pilot first and to his family second. He rules his house like he rules his squadron, his rule is law. Which for him means t ...more
John
May 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lt. Col. "Bull" Meecham is a Marine pilot who worships God and the Marine Corp with the latter taking priority. He is a no-nonsense Marine harsh disciplinarian who manages his wife and four children in a similar manner as he does his squadron he currently commands in Ravanel, S.C., which includes surprise inspections and impromptu war games.

This novel is also a coming of age story about Ben, the eldest child in the Meecham familly, a high school senior who has moved so many times in the military
...more
Briana
Dec 12, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a biased review because the world (not the family dynamic, thank God) in this book is very similar to my own as a spouse of a navy pilot. The writing of this book is engaging and eloquent (when it is not Bull speaking) and I was drawn into the story and wanted to read more. However, the characters (mostly Bull and Lillian) are so very unlikable it is hard to say I liked the book. So how do you rate a well written book in which you didn't love the characters nor the ending (spoiler alert: ...more
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On the Southern L...: * Moderator's Choice, June 2017: The Great Santini, by Pat Conroy 66 43 Aug 30, 2017 08:43AM  
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On the Southern L...: The Great Santini-April 2013 13 75 May 15, 2013 06:37AM  
Fun to read! 8 27 Apr 18, 2013 08:04AM  
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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
More about Pat Conroy...
“I’ve never had anyone’s approval, so I’ve learned to live without it.” 110 likes
“Always believe in things and people that bring you pleasure. What good does it do to throw those things out the window?” 3 likes
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