The introduction starts by offering a portrait of St Helena, describing its history, climate and natural environment. Little has been published about the island, and existing impressions have been strongly (and falsely) coloured by St Helena’s reputation as Napoleon’s bleak place of exile. The need to offer a more positive impression of the island is crucial to later parts of this book. While it is undeniable that the slaves brought to St Helena’s Liberated African Establishment died in large numbers – and in part unnecessarily – this had little to do with the character of the place itself. Later chapters will show that the causes of mortality were far more complex and mainly due to human factors. The remainder of the Introduction sets out the academic context of the research, and discusses the content of the chapters to come.
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