Isolated in the vastness of the South Atlantic and fortress-like in appearance, the Island of St Helena was important for centuries only as a victualling station for ships of the British East India Company, on their long voyages to and from India via the Cape of Good Hope. It was on one of these journeys that Arthur Wellesley, later the Duke of Wellington, took note of the island's remote impregnability. It was Wellington who suggested St Helena as Napoleon Bonaparte's place of imprisonment and exile after his defeat at Waterloo in 1815. Until his death in 1821, the former Emperor spent his final years under constant British guard. His exile transformed a speck on the maritime map into the most famous island in the world.
Johannes Willms, born 1948, is a historian and journalist. He was in charge of the editorial office at ZDF (German TV Channel) and later the feature section at the Suddeutsche Zeitung. He now works for the Suddeutsche Zeitung as the culture correspondent in Paris. His previous works includes book on German and French history. His latest book is Napoleon. A Biography.