Written before the Iranian seizure of the American embassy in Teheran, this refreshing, sympathetic representation of the nature of Islam today is an antidote to the ""re-awakened atavistic stereotypes"" of the ""mad mullah"" and ""fuzzy-wuzzy"" which appear daily on television and in newspaper cartoons. Calling Ayatollah Khomeini's attempt at Islamic rule extreme, Jansen--the Middle East correspondent for The Economist and veteran of 25 years' residence in the Arab world--reminds the Westerner that militant Islam is more concerned today with autonomy and constitutions than with blood and violence. The attempt by Muslim states such as Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, and Libya to modernize Islam is the last stage in an intermittent Islamic struggle against the Christian missionary penetration which accompanied imperialism, resulting in the deracination and alienation of generations which are neither at home in the West nor comfortable in their own cultures. Nationalists came late upon the scene but achieved power after revolts by religious leaders who raised the banner of Islam. The reassertions of Islamic culture are elements in the compromise between the ""neckties"" and the ""turbans."" Can Islam be a vital force in the modern world? Jansen thinks so if it can come to grips with two fundamental problems: the automatic association of governments linked to religion with the Right, and the subordinate position of women. Jansen's slender volume is a good primer on Islam and its role in the modern world.