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"L'autre Sainte-Hélène" is a French book published in June 2010. A version in English will be published at some point.
The book allows the reader to delve into the history of Napoleon's captivity on the island of St. Helena, "the last phase" of an extraordinary life. Several doctors took turns at his bedside and were instrumental to the prisoner's politics, and to that of his gaoler, the governor Hudson Lowe. They were often agents, messengers, intermediaries, and ultimately doctors, though without much success. As such, they were valuable witnesses to the life behind closed doors at Napoleon's residence, Longwood, which was under tight surveillance by some 2500 military and naval personnel.
After nearly 200 years, the causes of his illness and of his death continue to raise questions. Considering how much contempt Napoleon had for medicine, one cannot fail to note the irony of the subsequent medical controversies. But irony has rarely been absent from the history of his captivity.
Drawing on sources mainly from manuscripts of the era, some still unpublished, and contrasting them with the narratives and memoirs published later, this new book represents "The other St. Helena", the story of the truths and the lies, less publicly known, behind the Big History. The book follows these doctors who have been actors, voluntarily or not, in the controversy in which they found themselves.
Published in England, the book can be ordered from online services such as Amazon, or directly from the author (via the Contact form).
Most of this web site is in French (sorry!). Please feel free to navigate through the pages that offer more insight about the book. If you wish to contact the author, please do so with the link provided.
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A few English readers have been able to read the book in French and provided their comments:
- This is an immensely significant publication (from a Professor of History at the University of Oxford)
- The book is mentioned in John Tyrrell's Blog ; John also posted a comment in the blog of the Curator of the French domains at St. Helena
- The book has been reviewed in the Times Literary Supplement, issue of 3rd February 2012, by Sudhir Hazareesingh, who wrote: "Albert Benhamou's L'autre Sainte-Hélène draws compendiously from all this material [archives, published were mentioned in the review], and provides the first panoptic view of Napoleon's captivity on the island."
More reviews are available on the Home page of the French section (click on the French flag to reach it, and follow the link to "Avis des Lecteurs")