North Carolina barbecue may be the most complex of a decidedly complicated American tradition, with perennial battles over sauce, meat, wood and countless other factors. Married collaborators the Reeds (1001 Things Everyone Should Know About the South), along with Carolina BBQ Society founder McKinney, help 'cue fans navigate the smoky waters of North Carolina cuisine-its history, practice and players-in this expert guide, tempered with a smart sense of humor and true love for the food (Carolina transplants, the Reeds don't take the region's legacy lightly). The Reeds trace the evolution of the cooking style from its first appearance in the late 1600s, revealing the 19th century origins of the vinegar-based sauce synonymous with the state. Though the focus in on pork, the Reeds delve deep into all facets of the cuisine, including its social and political significance, and offer tips on picking one's restaurants wisely, a blueprint for building your own pit, and recipes. Would-be Carolinian pit-masters will learn all they need about smoking butts as well as whole hogs, whipping up crucial sauces and sides, and preparing dessert (from homemade Krispy Kreme Bread Pudding to Moon Pies and wine jelly). Even if readers never attempt to recreate the region's trademark delicacies, they'll certainly gain a deeper appreciation and understanding for this remarkably complex regional style and the characters who keep it alive. 260 illus.