The Death of Santini

  • by Pat Conroy
  • Narrated by Dick Hill
  • 15 hrs and 16 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

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."


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)


See More Like This

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Brutal Narration - couldn't finish

What disappointed you about The Death of Santini?

Both the prologue and the book's narrators were remedial at best. Surprised at Pat Conroy's stumbled prologue delivery. Dick Hill was brutal. Reminded me of a third grader reciting the adventures of Dick, Jane and Sally. Too bad. It was disappointing as I was eager to hear Pat Conroy's newest book. Plan to read it as soon as I can erase Dick Hill's voice from my memory.

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

Selected Will Patten to read it - including the prologue.

Would you be willing to try another one of Dick Hill’s performances?


Read full review

- Candace "I live on an island off the coast of Maine. Since I installed a "doggie door" I am now retired from "Letting The Dogs In and Out"!"

Raw & explosive view of author's life!

This is a "tell it like it is" story of the life of Pat Conroy's family, specifically involving his father--"THE Great Santini". I believe Conroy is one of the very best of American writers. This story comes from his memories of his life with his family----memories that are admittedly different for each Conroy family member. After years of best sellers with fictitious names telling family stories, this gets to the heart of this family with real names and memories.

I have a special interest in Pat Conroy's writings because my husband was also a '67 Citadel graduate, and one of Boo's Boys (Conroy's first book). Conroy also spoke about his family at a CASA ( Court Appointed Special Advocate--working with abused and neglected children) conference that I attended in Charleston, SC when I was a CASA. Name dropping??-- Pat Conroy wouldn't know me if he ran into me on the street. But, these things have added another level of enjoyment to books that needed nothing additional to become favorites in my library!!

Pat is the eldest of seven children born to a Chicago Irish Catholic highly decorated Marine pilot, and a beautiful daughter of a snake handling religious fanatic from the back woods country and a mother who deserted her four young children to defend for themselves. Pat's young life saw him going from place to place where ever his father was stationed at the time. Violence and love centered a difficult and volition family life, resulting in five of the seven kids eventually trying to commit suicide, with the youngest son eventually succeeding.

But the real beauty of this ranting family life, is the continual love-hate relationship between everyone in the family. After The Great Santini was published, Pat was demonized by most of his family, but his father---"THE Great Santini"---took perverse pleasure in referring to himself by that name for the rest of his life. The movie version somehow brought family members back together again in a mixing bowl of emotions. This book is Pat's version of a famous line from his book, The Prince Of Tides: " in families there are no crimes beyond forgiveness."

Though memories can be different for members of a family who lived through the same events, the raw emotions, and spectacularly open and dramatic telling of this story by Pat Conroy, makes this a timeless story of many families where violence harms and divides families, children and marriages take a beating figuratively and literally, and love and forgiveness manages to inch their way into people's hearts. Though this could have been a morbid tale if told be a different author, Pat Conroy brings this story into the realm of timeless story telling because of the explosive personality of someone who can get right to the heart of a classic tale! Wonderfully told and expertly written!
Read full review

- Byron

Book Details

  • Release Date: 10-29-2013
  • Publisher: Random House Audio