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Palgrave Macmillan

Character Assassination throughout the Ages

ISBN 9781137397867
Publication Date July 2014
Formats Hardcover Ebook (EPUB) Ebook (PDF) 
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan

Character assassination is the deliberate destruction of an individual's reputation. Most notable victims of character assassination are political and religious leaders, officials, celebrities, writers, scientists, athletes, and other public figures. 'Character assassins' target the private lives, behavior, values, and identities of their victims. The editors and contributors to this volume have gathered cases and insights from the fields of history, political science, and psychology to track many common characteristics of character assassination, as well as to describe their unique features over different times and places. The authors show that character assassination is a timeless, cross-cultural phenomenon that reveals itself in a variety of forms and methods typical for every cultural, political, and technological epoch.

Martijn Icks is a researcher and teacher at the University of Düsseldorf, Germany, as well as a former Marie Curie Fellow. He specializes in Roman imperial history and the history of character assassination. His study on the Roman emperor Elagabalus has appeared in three languages.

Eric Shiraev is author, co-author, and co-editor of fourteen books and numerous publications in the fields of political psychology, international relations, and cross-cultural studies. He emphasizes the role of identity and culture in politics and international relations. In addition to his teaching and research work, he writes policy briefs and opinion essays for the media and government and nongovernment organizations.

Table of Contents
1. Character Assassination: How Political Psychologists May Assist Historians; Eric Shiraev
Ancient Rome
2. Character Attack and Invective Speech in the Roman Republic: Cicero as Target; Henriette van der Blom
3. Reports about the 'sexual life' of early Roman emperors: A case of character assassination?; Jan Meister
4. Creating Tyrants in Ancient Rome: Character Assassination and Imperial Investiture; Martijn Icks
5. Editorial reflections: Ancient Rome
The Middle Ages
6. Falsifying the Prophet: Muhammad at the Hands of his Earliest Christian Biographers in the West; Kenneth Wolf
7. Louis of Orléans, Isabeau of Bavaria, and the Burgundian Propaganda Machine, 1392-1407; Tracy Adams
8. A Newcomer in Defamatory Propaganda: Youth (Late Fourteenth to Early Fifteenth Century); Gilles Lecuppre
9. Editorial Reflections: Medieval Cases
The Early Modern Age
10. The Ass in the Seat of St. Peter: Defamation of the Pope in early Lutheran Flugschriften; Bobbi Dykema
11. Odious and Vile Names: Political Character Assassination and Purging in the French Revolution; Mette Harder
12. Edwina Hagen
13. Editorial Reflections: Early Modern Cases
The Modern Age
14. Character Attacks and American Presidents; Jason Smart and Eric Shiraev
15. The Gao-Rao Affair: A Case of Character Assassination in Chinese Politics in the 1950s; Eric Shiraev and Zi Yang
16. A Character Assassination Attempt: The Case of Václav Havel; Martina Klicperová-Baker
17. Editorial Reflections: Modern Cases


"The can be few pleasures more delicious than witnessing the savaging of the reputations of the great and the good. This volume treats us to a rich smorgasbord of notable defamations, from the Romans down to our own day. They are served up by experts who seek to inform and entertain us and who succeed at both." - Anthony Barrett, University of British Columbia, Canada
'This tightly knit volume is a major contribution to our understanding of the ugly side of modern politics. It historicises what appears to be a universal human trait across all political societies—the tendency of politics to descend towards mudslinging and character assassination. It asks why character assassination is an attractive political strategy, when it is most effective, and how it can be resisted. It establishes the different strategies of attack and defence that have been used in conjunction with changing media and that apply in closed dictatorial and open democratic societies, and it also establishes why it is a particularly ubiquitous strategy in electoral politics. Perhaps not surprisingly, the volume demonstrates that victims also have more possible strategies of defence under democracies, but it also shows how under an unpopular regime such as the Czechoslovakian regime after 1968 denigration of dissidents such as Václav Havel and Charter 77 could backfire spectacularly.' - Simon Burrows, University of Western Sydney, Australia
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