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The Great Santini [Paperback]

Pat Conroy
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Mar 2002

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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Product details

  • Paperback: 471 pages
  • Publisher: Dial Press; Reprint edition (Mar 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553381555
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553381559
  • Product Dimensions: 21.1 x 13.1 x 2.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,198,273 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

From the Back Cover

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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Life inside the fortress... 14 April 1998
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Nobody has wrung more novels from a dysfunctional family than Pat Conroy. In The Great Santinti he opens a window which may give a new and unexpected view to many Americans, into the family life of a career military man. For those who have never lived within the military, this book may seem bizarre and contrived. For those of us who did, it hits a nerve - even for those of us whose father was not an abusive borderline alcoholic fighter pilot.
The sense of rootlessness, of being disconnected from the rest of society is here. Military families live in a strange semisubmerged culture invisible to the mainstream, and with the ending of the draft we have a generation of Americans who have never served and thus the gap has widened. The only friendships we form are with other military people, for civilians, even in the towns outside the main gate, are partially alien and can never be part of the community. Conroy captures this, and superimposes upon it the additional strains imposed by the father's domineering, macho, iron willed personality. Face it, he's not Gerald McRaney from Major Dad. No trying to understand the fears and dreams of his family, we do it by the book, my way or no way, sir, yes sir!!! There is stress between Colonel Santini and his neurotic southern belle wife, who wants to ensure her children grow up with a gentle appreciation for life, with his son who wants desperately to please his father but to do it by following his own path, and with his intelligent but socially awkward daughter who being a mere girl is not qualified for the warrior life and thus doesn't count. The military life is hard enough, throwing in these problems on top of it makes you wonder at the limits we accept in everyday life.
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By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Pat Conroy's novel The Great Santini tells of the coming of age of Ben Meechan. Ben, the oldest son of Bull and Lillian Meechan, is a clean cut, smart athlete. Bull, the Great Santini, is a macho marine fighter pilot who is trying to relive his youth through his son Ben. Lillian is a naive southern belle who is very passionate toward her children. Ben is scared of his father and he tries to protect the rest of his family from him.

Ben moves to Ravenel, South Carolina during his junior year of high school. He makes a few friends and becomes the star basketball player. This causes a conflict with his father who is never satisfied with his son's achievements. Bull is called to go on a routine flying mission to Florida. His plane crashes and Bull is killed. At the conclusion of the novel, Ben assumes the family responsibilities formerly held by Bull.

The theme in this book is that people show their love in different ways. Bull constantly nags the children and is overly intense because he is always trying to make them better. Lillian babies the children and wants the boys to be southern gentleman because she does not want them to be like Bull. Ben and his sister, Mary Anne, argue constantly as many siblings do. After their father's death, they show their love for each other by coming together as a family. Mr. Dacus, Ben's principal and basketball coach, is aware of Ben's situation at home. He becomes protective of Ben and later has to tell Ben about his father's death.

The main strength in this book is the great amount of detail. An example of this is,"...sleeping as the car rolled through vast wilderness and untransmissible lights." The characterization was also a strength.
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By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Though this is Pat Conroy's first novel, he certainly has promise as an author. His descriptions of locations and appearances are vivid and engaging. Unfortunately, one cannot say the same for his characters.
Ben Meecham, a high-school senior, is coping with the physical and mental abuse of his Marine pilot father, Bull. His mother, a Southern Belle named Lilian, is sweet and kind, but not without faults of her own. The daughter, Mary Anne, only one year younger than Ben, is ugly and quite cynical. Yet they live together, in an uncertain harmony, with younger children Matt and Karen.
The problem with these characters is not Mr. Conroy's ability to create them as living, breathing beings. It is, rather, the lack of depth he has given them. After reading the novel, one does not really care about what happens to the central characters, and that is a definate problem.
Likewise, the events that surround them seem to be self-serving and only present to cause the desired outcome. Being in a military family, the Meechams are used to moving throughout the South at a moment's notice, leaving friends and family behind. Mr. Conroy introduces a rape, without ever resolving the cause or effect on the community, purely with the purpose of creating an ironic twist in the plot: Ben's best friend leaves him instead of the other way around.
Bull Meecham's eventual death, likewise, seems to serve no purpose but to justify Ben's ascent to manhood. The effect on the rest of the family is rattled off with a mere few pages, most of which describe funeral arrangements.
Nonetheless, Mr. Conroy's ability to create a living, breathing world that certainly engages the reader is more than enough to warrant reading this novel. Despite its obvious faults, it is quite enjoyable.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Good but ...
This might prove to be a disappointment for anyone coming from the Prince of Tides but is still a great portrait of an ugly brute, namely Conroy's own father, the Great Santini of... Read more
Published on 22 Jan 2005 by azureglo
3.0 out of 5 stars Good intentions but the characters fall short
Good intentions but the characters fall short. The book is full of important life lessons. The problem is the people learning them are unrealistic. Read more
Published on 31 Aug 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars "Major Dad" in a serious bent
It's arguable that Pat Conroy is the Faulkner of the 'Boomer generation, and this story is a good argument for the opinion that some warriors should not raise families. Read more
Published on 21 July 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars TREMENDOUS NOVEL!
This was the first Pat Conroy novel I ever had the privelege to read. I have recommended it over and over to numerous friends, relatives, and the like. Read more
Published on 21 Jun 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars Hate Him, But Love Him
I read this book when I was in high school and at first I hated Bull. Towards the end of the book I learned to understand how he ticked and I bawled at the end, very sad. Read more
Published on 13 Jun 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars Bull Meacham is an asshole, but a true hero.
I loved this book. As the son of a fighter pilot (one who was very different than Bull Meacham, but who would have understood him ), I thought this book captured the life of a... Read more
Published on 4 Jun 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant!
This was the first of Pat Conroy's books I ever read and it has since become my favorite of all time. Read more
Published on 18 Dec 1998
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent!
I found the book to give a different perspective on the "american family". I was delighted to see the great detail that Pat Conroy used when describing the emotions of... Read more
Published on 3 Nov 1998
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book to read
It made my trip to NY worth remembering.
Published on 26 Jun 1998
4.0 out of 5 stars An entertaining book
This book was highly entertaining, with a great character that you'll never forget. This book was never boring, and makes you care about the characters. Read more
Published on 29 Nov 1997
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