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Pat Conroy's first novel made him famous, became the subject of an Oscar-nominated film, and helped destroy his marriage. His 1976 The Great Santini was largely autobiographical, offering a disturbing portrait of a domineering, abusive military father and the effects his treatment had on his children. Conroy's family vehemently objected to this betrayal of family secrets; some even picketed bookstores in protest. Perhaps strangely though, this cathartic fiction helped repair the very real breach between Don Conroy and his seven offspring. Described by one early reader as "a valentine to his father," The Death of Santini recounts the close relationship Pat Conroy and his dad shared in the latter's final years.