Professor Kyle Sinsi's The Last Hurrah earns awards and critical acclaim
Dr. Kyle Sinisi's highly-lauded 2015 release, The Last Hurrah: Sterling Price's Missiour Expedition of 1864, was named Best Book in 2015. The A.M.Pate, Jr. Award in Civil War History was presented to Sinisi January 12, 2016, by the Fort Worth Civil War Roundtable. Addtionally, The Last Hurrah was awarded an honorable mention, best Civil War Book of 2015, by The Civil War Monitor.
Read a review of The Last Hurrah by Andrew Miller as it appeared in The Post and Courier below:
THE LAST HURRAH: Sterling Price’s Missouri Expedition of 1864. By Kyle S. Sinisi. Rowman & Littlefield.
In the early autumn of 1864, Union general Ulysses S. Grant laid siege to Petersburg, Va.
In Georgia, Atlanta had fallen and Union general William Tecumseh Sherman was making his final preparations for his infamous March to the Sea.
West of the Mississippi River, Confederate general Sterling Price had gathered together a ragtag army and was heading north in an attempt to liberate Missouri from Union occupation and the brutal guerrilla war that had engulfed the region for the past three years.
“The Last Hurrah: Sterling Price’s Missouri Expedition of 1864” by Citadel history professor Kyle S. Sinisi is the story of Price’s ill-fated three-month mission that ultimately ended in a Confederate defeat and a long, slow disastrous retreat back to Arkansas.
While there have been attempts in the past to capture the scale and scope of Price’s doomed raid, none have been able to match the breadth and depth of Sinisi’s research and examination on the events that took place during the Confederate’s longest sustained cavalry operation of the war.
Despite an event that occurred more than 150 years ago, Sinisi is able to shed new light on the subject with a clean and crisp narrative that cuts through the myths and misinformation that has surrounded Price’s disastrous raid. Sinisi’s detailed research on the aftermath of the raid and the ultimate fate of its participants, both North and South, was especially intriguing.
“The Last Hurrah” begins with Price’s grand plan to invade Missouri and retake it for the Confederacy. Price also believed that a Confederate victory would help to influence the outcome of the 1864 presidential election and the eventually defeat of Abraham Lincoln.
Price, who ironically was against succession at the beginning of the war, had been a popular Missouri governor in the 1850s and was confident his return to the state would inspire an uprising of Confederate sympathizers.
And here is where Sinisi is at his best, breaking down the political and social attitudes on the ground in Missouri and Kansas and between the warring factions as Price enters his former state. Instead of finding a fertile land waiting for a spark of rebellion, Price is faced with an almost apathetic citizenry that has little or no interest in his cause of overthrowing the Union government.
Price is undeterred and continues on his march through Missouri. While Price was able to pick up supplies and conscripts to his cause, they were not nearly enough to accomplish his ambitious goal of re-taking Missouri for the Confederacy.
Sinisi takes the reader step-by-step through Price’s failed expedition. His detailed descriptions of the battles at Pilot Knob and Little Blue and Big Blue are sometimes smothered by military jargon, but nonetheless easy to follow even for a layperson.
The best part of “The Last Hurrah,” or perhaps the worst, depending on one’s perspective, is Sinisi’s account of the long Confederate retreat through Missouri and back into Arkansas. Sinisi paints a grim, but balanced picture of the atrocities that were committed on both sides of the fight.
Sinisi’s ability to combine the political, social and military elements into a compelling, human tale of hope and loss makes “The Last Hurrah” a must read for any Civil War buff.
Reviewer Andrew Miller is a sportswriter at The Post and Courier.