Inside Longwood - Barry O'Meara's clandestine letters
© Albert Benhamou Publishing
From the publishers:
Barry O'Meara was the Navy surgeon chosen by Napoleon in July 1815 to follow him to St. Helena as his personal physician. O'Meara's unique position among the captives gave him an insight into their personal routines and thoughts. His status as a British officer gave him access to Plantation House, seat of the Governor of St. Helena, Napoleon's "gaoler" Sir Hudson Lowe.
Despite the restrictions that surrounded Longwood House, Napoleon's residence, O'Meara decided to conduct a clandestine correspondence with John Finlaison, a friend at the Admiralty in London. His letters recorded his private conversations with the illustrious captive, who became increasingly irritated by Sir Hudson Lowe. In the autumn of 1817, when Napoleon's health began to decline, the Governor would not believe his physician's diagnosis. Pressure was exerted upon O'Meara, but to no avail, and finally, in July 1818, he was expelled from Longwood. Without medical assistance for over a year, and increasingly isolated in his wretched, damp abode, Napoleon's health gradually deteriorated leading to his death in May 1821.
These clandestine letters offer an invaluable insight into Napoleon's state of mind during his captivity. O'Meara would later use them to compile his famous book, A Voice from St. Helena, in 1822. However, in the published work, he exercised restraint and softened the tone of the original letters which now for the first time are published in their entirety in Inside Longwood.
Place and publisher: Albert Benhamou Publishing
Date of publication: 2012
Number of pages: 235
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Description: From the publishers:
"Patrice Gueniffey is the leading French historian of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic age. This book, hailed as a masterwork on its publication in France, takes up the epic narrative at the heart of this turbulent period: the life of Napoleon himself, the man who—in Madame de Staël's words—made the rest of “the human race anonymous.” Gueniffey follows Bonaparte from his obscure boyhood in Corsica, to his meteoric rise during the Italian and Egyptian campaigns of the Revolutionary wars, to his proclamation as Consul for Life in 1802. Bonaparte is the story of how Napoleon became Napoleon. A future volume will trace his career as emperor.
Most books approach Napoleon from an angle—the Machiavellian politician, the military genius, the life without the times, the times without the life. Gueniffey paints a full, nuanced portrait. We meet both the romantic cadet and the young general burning with ambition—one minute helplessly intoxicated with Josephine, the next minute dominating men twice his age, and always at war with his own family. Gueniffey recreates the violent upheavals and global rivalries that set the stage for Napoleon's battles and for his crucial role as state builder. His successes ushered in a new age whose legacy is felt around the world today.
Averse as we are now to martial glory, Napoleon might seem to be a hero from a bygone time. But as Gueniffey says, his life still speaks to us, the ultimate incarnation of the distinctively modern dream to will our own destiny".
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Place and publisher: Harvard, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Date of publication: 2015
Number of pages: 1024
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