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Article of the Day – Lee Smith on Tablet Magazine

August 29, 2011

Embroiled, by Lee Smith

“With the Arab Spring shaking the Middle East’s status quo, a new regional order is being born. As the recent attacks in Eilat and Be’er Sheva show, Israel is likely to pay a price.”

Besides being an engaging man to speak with, Lee Smith is an outstanding writer. His article on Tablet Magazine last week stayed perfectly on-point, explained Israel’s current position within its neighborhood clearly, and introduced me to the concept of “embroilment” in Islamist thinking.

One sentence in his last paragraph shows an intense command of the English language:

“The Arab Spring has shaken the two pillars—Egypt and Syria—of the Arab status quo, and a new regional order is now being born.”

“Shaking the pillars” is a beautiful phrase here that reminds me of Samson shaking the pillars of the Phillistine Temple. The birth of a new regional order is also an elegant concept, though perhaps a bit cliche.

The placement of the hyphenated clause (after “pillars” and not after “status quo”) really strengthens the sentence. While it’s tempting to put an explanatory hyphenated clause at the natural pause, it really belongs as close to the phrase it’s describing–“the two pillars”–as possible.

Another helpful hyphen hint: keep your hyphenated clauses short. Don’t make them so long that the reader forgets the flow of the sentence.

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One Comment
  1. This is my first post!!!! Leave comments, please!

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