The Great Santini (novel)

See also The Great Santini (film)

The Great Santini is a novel written by Pat Conroy and published in 1976.[1]

The Great Santini
First edition
AuthorPat Conroy
Cover artistGeorge Hall
CountryUnited States
Published1976 Random House
Media typePrint (Hardback & Paperback)
LC ClassPS3553.O5198 G74 2006
Preceded byThe Water is Wide 
Followed byThe Lords of Discipline 

Plot summaryEdit

Hard-nosed Marine fighter pilot Lt. Col. Wilbur "Bull" Meecham calls himself "The Great Santini". He runs his family with a strict hand. In 1962 before the Vietnam War, the Meecham family struggles to fit into the Marine town of Ravenel, South Carolina (closely based on Beaufort, South Carolina) where they are newcomers. Conroy makes the point that Santini is a warrior without a war, and in turn is at war alternately with the service that he loves and his family.

The novel explores main character Ben Meecham's growth into manhood, his experiences playing basketball for his high school, as well as his friendships with a Jewish classmate and an African-American farmer. The novel exposes the love-hate relationship between Ben and his father, and the lengths Ben goes to in an effort to win his father's acceptance and love.

Film adaptationEdit

The novel was made into a film of the same name in 1979, starring Robert Duvall in the title role.[1]


  • "The Great Santini," called the "World's Champion Flame-Diver," appeared as a circus act in the 1931 film Side Show (film).