David Denby is a man on a moral, ethical mission in Snark: A Polemic in Seven Fits. In it, he seeks to quell “the bad kind of invective — low, teasing, snide, condescending, knowing” he refers to as snark.
This extended essay of a little over 100 pages has a definite academic lean. In it, he defines and traces forms of this disdainful rhetoric over the centuries. Included is a section on the purported origin of the word in Lewis Carroll’s Hunting the Snark, as well as its roots among macho posturing poets and warriors over the ages.
The more poignant examples are culled from the combatants in the last presidential campaign. A shocking revelation, I know.