For many years Malise Ruthven has been at the forefront of discerning commentary on the Islamic world and its relations with the predominantly secularized and Christian societies of the West. Well known for his bold interventions on such issues as the Rushdie affair and publication of The Satanic Verses; the many unresolved questions relating to the Lockerbie bombing; and the globe-changing terrorist attack of 9/11, Ruthven's perceptive writings, particularly those that have appeared in the New York Review of Books, reliably re-frame difficult issues and problems so that his readers are prompted to look at the challenges afresh. Ruthven is here at his most compelling: he offers astute and topical insights across the whole spectrum of Middle East and Islamic studies. Whether questioning the involvement of Libyan agents in the downing of Pan Am Flight 103; exploring the contested place of women in Islam; or discussing the disputed term "Islamofascism" (his own), the author's probing, searchlight intelligence aims always to get at the truth of things, regardless of attendant controversy. Representing the "best of Ruthven," these lucid essays will be widely appreciated by students, specialists and general readers. They transform our understandings of contemporary society.