This important study, the first book-length treatment of an increasingly crucial topic, treats the moral issues of secession at two levels. At the practical level, Professor Buchanan develops a coherent theory of the conditions under which secession is morally justifiable. He then applies it to historical and contemporary examples, including the U.S. Civil War and more recent events in Bangladesh, Katanga, and Biafra, the Baltic states, South Africa, and Quebec. This is the first systematic account of the conditions and terms that justify secession from a political union.But Buchanan also locates this account of the right to secede in the broader context of contemporary political thought, introducing readers to influential accounts of political society such as contractarianism and communitarianism, and showing how the possibility of secession fits into a more complete understanding of political community and political obligation.At both levels this is an important book. It will interest not just political and social theorists but any reader concerned with one of the most momentous issues of our day: the future of troubled political federations and other states under conditions of ethnic and cultural pluralism.