Three things are immediately obvious when one examines the biography of John Louis Esposito, American academic expert on Islam. The first is that -- as noted by his official biographical listing of more than forty-five books and monographs, along with his standing as editor of several reference series -- he seems indefatigably prolific, though the bulk of his writings present interpretations of contemporary phenomena rather than original research. The second is that he luxuriates in honors, including those bestowed by the kingdom of Saudi Arabia and other parties in whose objectivity about Islamic affairs few can believe. Finally, his work has provided an unremitting "explanation" that amounts to a committed defense of radical, rather than traditional, Islam. Esposito aspires to become the chief interlocutor between the U.S., if not the West as a whole, and the Muslim lands -- especially the extremist elements in Islamic societies.
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