What a delightful article. I knew about Paoli and had read various descriptions about his efforts on Corsica during the clan infighting, as well his distress with both Italian and then French sovereignty over his beloved island.
I had not previously come across the Boswell backstory, although it, no doubt, must have influenced what others wrote and I had read about Paoli. Wanting to get a sense of place for both Paoli and the brothers Bonaparte, I visited this island “nation” and found that its rugged landscape and local character, away from tourist spots, still seems to underscore the resilience, pride and independence Boswell had discovered in his time spent with its most influential leader. In Corsica, many claim Christopher Columbus was also one of them.
What an interesting proposition Professor Bell makes in linking Boswell's narratives to those descriptions about our country’s foremost forefather, George Washington.
It is probably more the rule than the exception, that history’s most highly regarded leaders achieved much of their reputations from the media of their day, along with the efforts of unknown, paid or voluntary, “PR liaisons” who helped amplify the leader’s positive attributes while reducing or protecting against negative misconceptions.
What is different from the past is the sheer volume of sources, some questionable or unaccountable, that are constantly attempting to influence or change our opinions and perception of present-day leaders.