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The Death of Santini: The Story of a Father and His Son | [Pat Conroy]

The Death of Santini: The Story of a Father and His Son

Pat Conroy's father, Donald Patrick Conroy, was a towering figure in his son's life. The Marine Corps fighter pilot was often brutal, cruel, and violent; as Pat says, "I hated my father long before I knew there was an English word for 'hate.'" As the oldest of seven children who were dragged from military base to military base across the South, Pat bore witness to the toll his father's behavior took on his siblings, and especially on his mother, Peg. She was Pat's lifeline to a better world - that of books and culture.
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Publisher's Summary

In this powerful and intimate memoir, the beloved best-selling author of The Prince of Tides and his father, the inspiration for The Great Santini, find some common ground at long last.

Pat Conroy's father, Donald Patrick Conroy, was a towering figure in his son's life. The Marine Corps fighter pilot was often brutal, cruel, and violent; as Pat says, "I hated my father long before I knew there was an English word for 'hate.'" As the oldest of seven children who were dragged from military base to military base across the South, Pat bore witness to the toll his father's behavior took on his siblings, and especially on his mother, Peg. She was Pat's lifeline to a better world - that of books and culture. But eventually, despite repeated confrontations with his father, Pat managed to claw his way toward a life he could have only imagined as a child.

Pat's great success as a writer has always been intimately linked with the exploration of his family history. While the publication of The Great Santini brought Pat much acclaim, the rift it caused with his father brought even more attention. Their long-simmering conflict burst into the open, fracturing an already battered family. But as Pat tenderly chronicles here, even the oldest of wounds can heal. In the final years of Don Conroy's life, he and his son reached a rapprochement of sorts. Quite unexpectedly, the Santini who had freely doled out physical abuse to his wife and children refocused his ire on those who had turned on Pat over the years. He defended his son's honor.

The Death of Santini is at once a heart-wrenching account of personal and family struggle and a poignant lesson in how the ties of blood can both strangle and offer succor. It is an act of reckoning, an exorcism of demons, but one whose ultimate conclusion is that love can soften even the meanest of men, lending significance to one of the most-often quoted lines from Pat's best-selling novel The Prince of Tides: "In families there are no crimes beyond forgiveness."

©2013 Pat Conroy (P)2013 Random House Audio

What the Critics Say

“Listeners will be moved as they listen to Conroy's latest memoir…The humorous and gut wrenching prologue, read by Conroy himself, transitions perfectly to Dick Hill's delivery of the soul-searching memoir. Hill inhabits all the Conroy family members well, but his shifts between father and son…is where the story soars.” (AudioFile)

"Despite the inherently bleak nature of so much of this material, Conroy has fashioned a memoir that is vital, large-hearted and often raucously funny. The result is an act of hard-won forgiveness, a deeply considered meditation on the impossibly complex nature of families and a valuable contribution to the literature of fathers and sons." (The Washington Post)

"The Death of Santini instantly reminded me of the decadent pleasures of [Conroy's] language, of his promiscuous gift for metaphor and of his ability, in the finest passages of his fiction, to make the love, hurt or terror a protagonist feels seem to be the only emotion the world could possibly have room for, the rightful center of the trembling universe. . . . Conroy’s conviction pulls you fleetly through the book, as does the potency of his bond with his family, no matter their sins, their discord, their shortcomings.” (The New York Times Book Review)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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  •  
    B Cruz 11-16-13
    B Cruz 11-16-13

    soul fan

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Absolutely aweful--not like his fiction at all"
    Would you try another book from Pat Conroy and/or Dick Hill?

    Definitely would not read any non-fiction from Pat Conroy again.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Pat Conroy comes off as an insufferable, chauvinistic, narcissist. I found his fiction (Prince of Tides, Great Santini, South of Broad, Lords of Discipline) entertaining but this book was awful. I couldn't finish it--only got halfway through--it was too boring.


    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nikki 01-19-15
    Nikki 01-19-15 Member Since 2014
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    "From military spouse"

    Bravo Pat. So many things resonated with me and my children whose own father a West Pointer loved his children through their mother. Emotionally distant and a raging alcoholic after retiring.
    I will send the book to all my children. One injured Marine and one Air Force officer, your kindred spirits. Your courage to write this book will let them know they are not alone.
    The biggest aha moment for me was the chapter about Santinis missions to kill as a fighter pilot and then come home to vulnerable children.
    It must be confusing for warriors to navigate worlds and the families pay the price. And then to honor these warriors as heroes. My wounded warrior son says don't thank me and don't call me a hero.
    War is sick. Thank you for allowing us to have a glimpse of life for those of us who have loved the Warriors

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dan 05-10-14
    Dan 05-10-14 Member Since 2011
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    "Self-inflated and tedious to the point of boredom"
    Would you try another book from Pat Conroy and/or Dick Hill?

    no


    What could Pat Conroy have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    The book was seriously in need of a good editor. Too long, too repetitious, and much too self-important.


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Dick Hill?

    Someone who could read faster, and not get bogged down in the descriptive passages. HIs characterization of Conroy's father was the best voice he used, but in general he reads haltingly, in a way that quickly becomes irritating.


    Any additional comments?

    Anyone who makes his entire career out of rewriting family (or personal) history, however thinly disguised, is asking that we look at him over and over. Two of Conroy's books succeeded for me, though I've never liked his over-the-top writing style. (Movie versions have been more successful, in general). But with this book I think he's become little more than a self-aggrandizing victim. I tired of the book in the first two hours, and while I stayed to the end, I thought much of it was padded.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Howard Carlsbad, CA, United States 04-04-14
    Howard Carlsbad, CA, United States 04-04-14 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Conroy takes you into his world behind the scenes"
    If you could sum up The Death of Santini in three words, what would they be?

    Powerful, articulate, authentic


    What other book might you compare The Death of Santini to and why?

    This is one of a kind.


    What does Dick Hill bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Dick Hill is a great story teller from a sensitive description to a loud and funny Big John impression.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    Conroy tells his true story as only a master writer can.


    Any additional comments?

    You will lose yourself in this book and wonder what happed to your clock when you check the time.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alan ROSLYN HEIGHTS, NY, United States 01-19-14
    Alan ROSLYN HEIGHTS, NY, United States 01-19-14 Member Since 2007
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    "No book Conroy writes is not worth reading."
    Would you listen to The Death of Santini again? Why?

    I would guess everyone knows that Pat Conroy's fiction is based on his real-life family. The importance of parents is almost as seminal as water in Conroy's fiction. Here we have the real story of Conroy's father, The Great Santini. Conroy the non-fiction writer is never as good as Conroy the novelist. HIs works of fiction, as emotionally difficult as they are, are still transcendental experiences. His works of nonfiction lack the emotional impact and the soaring language found in his novels. But they are never bad reads nor are they ever uninteresting. They are just not as brilliant as his fictional works.If you are unfamiliar with Conroy's fictional work you should read those books first. If you are aware of his fictional work then this book will bring you both joy and facts with which will lead to insight that inform reading his fictional work. While he spends time growing up the son of a dominant and abusive father if you are looking for a primer for each of his factional works you may be disappointed. It is a sort of eulogy to a father who loved the fame his son brought him and to whom his abused son, nonetheless, loved. It is the story of a family with too much mental illness. Conroy does not dwell long on these incidents but he does write of his brother's suicide, his sister's instability as well as his own descent into madness. He does not spare us the gory details of his mother's and father's abusive relationship--hardly a surprise to any reader of Conroy's fictional accounts of their marriage. You get additional details of this ultimate outsider to bring to his fiction. You see the social slights small down elites inflict on both him and his family and how these acts of social violence were met. You read the familiar Greek tragedy that make up the relationship of the Conroy siblings. You meet the Chicago Conroys and recognize the meilleure that created the Great Santini. However bad your own family experience growing up you will again thank your stars that you did not grow up in this family or these siblings. The saddest part of this book is that I fear it may be the last published work of this great writer.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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