A well-reasoned, all-inclusive weighing of the edict for the assassination of Salman Rushdie for his ""blasphemous"" novel, The Satanic Verses. Pipes (In the Path of God: Islam and Political Power, 1983) is the editor of ORBIS, the Foreign Policy Research Institute's quarterly journal of international affairs. He is nothing if not a legal scholar, and here he weighs the pros and cons of Rushdie's act and Muslim ire down to the finest feather's-weight of right and wrong. In fact, he lays out so many ideas that the reader feels both overloaded and convinced that no clear-minded judgment on the affair is possible. But as the book moves step by step through fiery clouds of Muslim fundamentalism and Western free-speech rhetoric, the larger questions take shape to which Pipes suggests answers. Why did Khomeini make the edict only after the book had been banned in India? Did Rushdie write such an inflammatory book on purpose? What does this affair point to in the seemingly un, stoppable tide of Muslim fundamentalists moving into Eastern Europe and the West (including the US)? Will--Pipes asks--the fundamentalists kneel to the secular laws of the countries they are entering? In reviewing Rushdie's works, Pipes finds a ""disaffected intellectual who criticizes or makes fun of nearly everything""--a glib man for whom assault and negativism come easily; but Pipes gives the Ayatollah no blessing either. Does Pipes himself--writing here for an extremely sober audience--have a hidden agenda in his study? Not when he seems to take into account every possible prejudice on both sides and shows them with as much fair-mindedness as can be humanly mustered. Worthy and important.