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Americans enjoy reading about barbecue almost as much as they love eating it. Books on the subject cover almost every aspect of the topic: recipes, grilling tips, restaurant guides, pitbuilding instructions, and catalogs of exotic variants such as Mongolian barbecue and Indian tandoor cooking. Despite this coverage, the history of barbecue in the United States has until now remained virtually untold. Even the best books on barbecue devote little more than a page or two to barbecue before 1900. But barbecue has a long, rich history--a history that formerly could be found only through scattered references in old letters, journals, newspapers, diaries, and travel narratives. Barbecue: The History of an American Institution draws on all these sources to tell the story of barbecue from its origins among Native Americans through its present status as an icon of American culture. This is the story not just of a dish but of a social institution that reflects and helped shape many regional cultures of the United States. The story begins with the importation of pigs by European explorers in the 15th century, moves to the adoption of barbecuing techniques from Native Americans in the 16th and 17th centuries, and is carried through to barbecue's growing popularity at the end of the 20th century. Although barbecue has a long tradition in the Caribbean, South America, and other parts of the world, which this book touches on, the primary focus is on barbecue in the United States and the "Barbecue Belt," stretching from Virginia through the Carolinas and the Deep South to Texas, and including Kentucky, Tennessee, and Missouri (most notably, Kansas City). "Moss knows more about the history of barbecue than anyone I've yet encountered, and nothing like this book has ever before been published. To his great credit, he treats his subject seriously but not solemnly. Barbecue is simply a lot of fun to read about. At least it is in Moss's hands. He has some good stories to tell, and he tells them well. I love it that aristocrats of the South Carolina low country established private clubs where gentlemen could eat 'cue without having to mingle with the hoi polloi. Who knew that barbecue once flourished in New England?" --John Shelton Reed, co-author of Holy Smoke: The Big Book of North Carolina Barbecue. "Amazing as it seems, in all the welter of barbecue books extant, there is not a single one that comes close to recording this history. The effort has been long overdue, but here it is, finally, and it fills some huge gaps in the long and colorful story of this food tradition. I venture to guess that if the word gets around that a real social history of barbecue is on the market, it will stir up some genuine interest among the tens of thousands of Americans who love this subject. It's truly the first comprehensive history of American barbecue." --John Egerton, author of Southern Food: At Home, on the Road, in History.