Explanations for the American Civil War often focus on the activities of Northern abolitionists and Southern fire-eaters, who are often blamed for their inability to compromise. This life of Robert Barnwell Rhett chronicles one of the earliest, best known, and most extreme of the fire-eaters. Director of the Virginia Center for Civil War Studies and author or editor of over 50 books, including Rhett's memoirs, A Fire-Eater Remembers, Davis draws on an impressive selection of primary and secondary sources to produce this well-written biography of a central figure in the development of secessionist thought. Libraries desiring a comprehensive Civil War collection will want this, but others may be content with more general volumes such as Eric H. Walther's The Fire-Eaters (LJ 7/92). Recommended for larger academic and public libraries with an interest in a comprehensive Civil War collection. Theresa McDevitt, Indiana Univ. of Pennsylvania Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.