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The Great Santini | [Pat Conroy]

The Great Santini

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.
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Publisher's Summary

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 Meecham is undoubtedly Pat Conroy's most explosive character -- a man you should hate, but a man you will love.

©1976 Pat Conroy; (P)2010 Brilliance Audio, Inc.

What Members Say

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4.2 (398 )
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  •  
    cort Kensington, CA, United States 06-19-10
    cort Kensington, CA, United States 06-19-10 Member Since 2005
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    "an excellent book"

    An insightful and moving story of the coming of age of a young man whose life has been dominated by a complex and violent father. The narration is one of the best I've heard.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Truitt Halifax, VA, United States 04-01-11
    Truitt Halifax, VA, United States 04-01-11 Member Since 2009
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    "Most Enjoyable"

    I had never read this author or heard of the book, I just bought it from the sale as I was looking for something new. It is SO worth it. I listen when I walk and I find myself laughing out loud at parts of this book. I have recommended it to several people and I am going to rent the movie. If you are considering this book go for it.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    kaley barrie, Ontario, Canada 12-17-10
    kaley barrie, Ontario, Canada 12-17-10 Member Since 2010
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    "Terrific!!"

    This has to be one of my favourite audibles thus far! Pat Conroy is a genius that can keep me laughing/crying from the beginning to the end. The narrator was superb!

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John 08-12-12
    John 08-12-12 Member Since 2005
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    "Great story with terrific narration!"

    I've listened to many Audible selections over the past few years, but this is the first one for which I felt compelled to write a review. This truly is, hands down, the best listen I've had from Audible.

    I remember seeing the movie adaptation of this book when I was a young boy, but I had yet to read the novel. Taking the opportunity to listen to books as I commute, I am thoroughly pleased with my selection of "The Great Santini".

    Conroy's story of growing up in a Marine pilot's family and a year in the Deep South of the early 1960's is an example of the true art of storytelling. Having been in the military for over a decade, I readily recognized the typical trials and joys of the military family. The traditions and camaraderie amongst the military men was spot on. I appreciated Conroy's turn of phrases and the pictures he paints, capturing the essence of the internal joys and struggles of the military, both for the soldier and of the family.

    As for the narration, Dick Hill was hopefully recognized with an Oscar for his performance on this book. He provides each character with a unique voice and reads Conroy's prose as though at a poetry reading, fully engaging each scene within the listener's mind. There were several times I was sure I was listening to an ensemble cast! I will be looking for further volumes narrated by Hill.

    If you've never read "The Great Santini", either get this Audible version or read it yourself!

    Warning: This book does contain strong language and adult situations/discussions.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    D. Evans Central New Jersey 08-12-12
    D. Evans Central New Jersey 08-12-12 Member Since 2008
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    "The Great Santini -- love him and hate him"

    This is my second Pat Conroy story and I find he's becoming a favorite author. He really gets into the details in his books. He makes you truly care about the characters.

    This is the story of the Meecham family and their slightly crazy fighter-pilot father Wilbur "Bull" Meecham. I understand Mr. Conroy based Bull Meecham on his father. If that is truly so, Pat had quite a volatile upbringing!

    The narrator gave a distinct voice to each of the different characters. He does a good job showing the moods of Bull Meecham.

    The story mostly revolves around Bull and his relationship with the military and with his son Ben.

    I found myself feeling just like Bull's son, Ben. He has a love-hate relationship with his father, as do I. Bull takes care of his family, and sort-of shows his love. Then he goes crazy and destroys all the good he has done. I was on edge whenever there was a scene with Bull Meecham in it. You never knew what he was going to do.

    I had a hard time leaving this story. I wanted to learn more about Ben's life. And even though I disliked Bull, I was still sad at the end of the story.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Barbara Albany, NY, United States 07-17-12
    Barbara Albany, NY, United States 07-17-12 Member Since 2005

    Since taking my first creative writing class in 2008 the pleasure I used to get from reading has been greatly reduced. I notice things I never noticed before. That said, I think I rate books pretty generously. Anyone who actually manages to write a whole book and then get it published deserves an extra star.

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    "What's Love Got To Do With It?"

    Everything, as it turns out, in this story about an overbearing, sometimes offensive and dictatorial father who only wants the best for and from his family. Partly autobiographical, this is a great listen - and the movie, starring Robert Duvall as The Great Santini, is excellent.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeremy Winfield, IL, United States 06-20-12
    Jeremy Winfield, IL, United States 06-20-12 Member Since 2011
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    "First treat from a timeless writer"

    The Great Santini was Pat Conroy's first novel, and it was the one that rocketed him to literary fame in America. It's easy to see why. Though troubled at times by identifiable rookie errors like over-repetition and unrealistic dialog, the book--and particularly the writing--possess an astonishing depth for a debut effort. By now readers have come to identify Conroy as one of the great literary voices of his generation, but when Santini was published, he was an unknown Southern writer trying to tell what was essentially a fictionalized account of his own childhood. Happily, he succeeded.

    Anyone who has read even one or two Pat Conroy books will recognize in this first novel patterns that will become familiar in later works. A loving but abusive father. A beautiful mother. The military. A family trying to make their way in the world despite many hardships and tragedy. And of course, the ever-present undercurrent of coastal South Carolina. These were all evidently ingredients of Conroy's own life, and he weaves them into his fiction with unusual skill. His work, though at times harsh, is a pleasure to read.

    What's great about The Great Santini is the way Conroy makes Bull Meecham such a sympathetic character. Even though he's abusive, stubborn, foul-mouthed, and often just simply unpleasant, he wants to do the right thing. He's intensely patriotic and utterly competitive, and he truly loves his family. Yet all too often, his demons get the best of him. When it happens, you feel terrible for his suffering family, but you feel bad for Bull, too.

    The audiobook version is surprisingly good. I wasn't sure Dick Hill, who provided a brilliant Harry Bosch in Michael Connelly's early books, would be right for Conroy's Southern narrative rhythms, but he was excellent. His loud, brash portrayal of Bull Meecham is perfect and really makes the character come alive.

    As in any Pat Conroy book, there's a lot of language and some very difficult scenes, including some graphic crimes. But there are also plenty of laugh-out-loud moments as of course page after page of simply beautiful writing. For a compelling and powerful picture of what life in the South was like for a military family in the 1960s, look no further. It's not Conroy's best--he was still finding himself as a writer--but it's still great and definitely recommended.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark Waltham, MA, United States 05-30-12
    Mark Waltham, MA, United States 05-30-12 Member Since 2010

    MTF

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    "One of the all time great coming of age stories"

    I read this book many years ago, and loved it. I enjoyed it just as much when I recently listened to the audio-book. The year is 1962, and Col. Bull Meacham is once again moving his family to a new town. He is a flyer in the Marines, and a bigger-than-life character who rules his family like a drill sergeant. The story focuses on Bull's 18 year-old son, Ben, a basketball star and a sensitive boy torn in a love-hate relationship with his father. Racial tensions mark this powerful book filled with humor and heartbreak. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. While the movie is very good, this book is even better. The narrator does a solid job. This family of six comes alive on the pages of this novel. Listen to it or read it!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Blythe 04-16-14
    Blythe 04-16-14 Member Since 2000
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    "I saw the movie but the book is much better!"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes, it is the harrowing story of a family at war with itself.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Great Santini?

    Tumour's (sp?) death was the most memorable and heartbreaking.


    Have you listened to any of Dick Hill’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    Dick Hill is good, my only quibble is when the book calls for shouting he shouts instead of a slight modulation. Also when the book calls for whispering he whispers. The problem with shouting and whispering is I constantly have to play with the volume, turning up and down. I would ask Mr. Hill to only slightly raise and lower his voice as appropriate. Because I mostly listen to Audibles while driving, playing with the volume knob is not good!


    Any additional comments?

    I am a Huge Pat Conroy fan. He is an excellent storyteller!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alexander 03-12-14
    Alexander 03-12-14 Member Since 2011

    Say something about yourself!

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    "Great Story"

    Why have I waited so long to read Pat Conroy? I do not know but alas thankfully I have corrected that and Conroy's novel The Great Santini is a wonderful addition to the pantheon of great literature. Bull Meacham, the troubled but great protagonist, of this story is fully nuanced character who begs for your forgiveness but is not willing to own up to his faults. Through Ben and Bull Meacham, Conroy depicts a family troubled by demons it quite cannot exorcise. Conroy's masterful use of language brings the reader an idyllic but troubled world of a family in South Carolina.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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