The Great Santini

  • by Pat Conroy
  • Narrated by Dick Hill
  • 19 hrs and 28 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

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.

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Customer Reviews

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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.
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- cort

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.
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- Jeremy

Book Details

  • Release Date: 12-24-2009
  • Publisher: Brilliance Audio