The Death of Santini by Pat Conroy

If you’ve read Pat Conroy’s earlier books, especially The Great Santini, a novel based on hissantini childhood and youth, you’ll probably be interested in this memoir about Pat’s relationship with his father, Don Conroy.  And if you’ve never discovered Conroy’s writing, this might be a good place to start.

Don Conroy, whose nickname was The Great Santini, was an outstanding fighter pilot and was very proud of it.  However, as a husband and father, he was brutal, physically and emotionally abusive.  Growing up in this dysfunctional family created lifelong problems for Pat and for his six siblings.  Pat Conroy writes, “I never felt safe for one minute… He could have written a manual on the art of waging war against his wife and children.”  However, Don Conroy had a much better second act.  As an adult, Pat realized how much he loved his father, and the two men formed a bond which would once have seemed impossible.

You’ll probably complete The Death of Santini with an increased appreciation for the family in which you grew up.  Almost certainly, you’ll laugh at many parts of the book – the Conroys had no hesitation about expressing themselves in an incredibly frank and often humorous way.  Most of all, the book gives hope that, no matter how bad relationships may be, there is the possibility of forgiveness.

(Helen Snow, retired from Information Services)

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