A hagiography is a book or long article which praises and exaggerates the characteristics of the subject and lauds his/her accomplishments. Historically it is about a saint.

I am looking for an antonym to describe Seymour Hersh's book, "The Dark Side of of Camelot", about JFK. This book intertwined truths with rumors, calumnies, unverified quotes, etc.

As far as I am concerned, Hersh's book is no better nor no worse than a hagiography.

So, how can his book be described in one word?

  • A polemic, perhaps? – Mick Jul 23 '19 at 22:05
  • Yes, I like polemic. – David K Bivins Jul 23 '19 at 22:08
  • I apologize, I did respond to a similar question but was not registered and could not find it. "Polemic" is near perfect, nithing in what I saw before comes close. – David K Bivins Jul 23 '19 at 22:19
  • This is a quick response website! So, what I'm still looking for is a softer acronym for "hagiography". vs. "polemic". – David K Bivins Jul 23 '19 at 22:26
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    When you say the opposite of "something long that praises (and exaggerates)* what do you mean? (1) Something short that praises? (2) Something long that criticizes? (3) Something short that criticizes? Which of the particular aspects (if not all of them) do you want negated? I don't see how your description of The Dark Side of Camelot is an obvious opposite of what you describe in the first sentence. (And saying it's "no better nor no worse than a hagiography" leaves me even more confused, if it's supposed to be its opposite. How does it being no better nor worse affect this? – Jason Bassford Jul 24 '19 at 4:49

"Character assassination" is the one that springs to mind.

Other possibilities: vilification, traducement.

But these are far from a perfect fit: the "graphy" in hagiography clearly suggests a written opus.

From here I found two that I liked the look of: "synography" and "harmatography". As a pretty well educated English native speaker I'd never heard of either. Googling them reveals why, perhaps.

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