"The Kamasutra" was written in northern India in the third century AD, when erotic culture lay at the heart of an exquisite civilization. "The Book of Love" is a unique portrait of this sensuous era, evoking the world of the pleasure-seeking men - and women - for whom the book was written. James McConnachie shows that the "Kamasutra" was always much more than a sex manual: it was a passionate portrayal of an ideal lifestyle that was, even then, under threat from the moralists. He also demonstrates how the outrageous Victorian explorer Richard Burton, with the help of a clandestine coterie of sexual experimenters and iconoclasts, then unleashed this extraordinary volume on English society in an attempt to start a revolution. And how the "Kamasutra" was driven underground into the hands of pirate pornographers, before being thrust once more into the daylight, in the wake of the publication of "Lady Chatterley's Lover". "The Book of Love" tells the story of the life of a work, of how something as fragile as an idea and a way of seeing the world can be cradled between hard covers - and survive.
Shortlisted for Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award 2008.
James McConnachie graduated from the University of Oxford in 1996. He is a journalist, travel writer and broadcaster.