Terms and Conditions

These terms and conditions of use refer to the London Review of Books and the London Review Bookshop website ( — hereafter ‘LRB Website’). These terms and conditions apply to all users of the LRB Website ("you"), including individual subscribers to the print edition of the LRB who wish to take advantage of our free 'subscriber only' access to archived material ("individual users") and users who are authorised to access the LRB Website by subscribing institutions ("institutional users").

Each time you use the LRB Website you signify your acceptance of these terms and conditions. If you do not agree, or are not comfortable with any part of this document, your only remedy is not to use the LRB Website.

  1. By registering for access to the LRB Website and/or entering the LRB Website by whatever route of access, you agree to be bound by the terms and conditions currently prevailing.
  2. The London Review of Books ("LRB") reserves the right to change these terms and conditions at any time and you should check for any alterations regularly. Continued usage of the LRB Website subsequent to a change in the terms and conditions constitutes acceptance of the current terms and conditions.
  3. The terms and conditions of any subscription agreements which educational and other institutions have entered into with the LRB apply in addition to these terms and conditions.
  4. You undertake to indemnify the LRB fully for all losses damages and costs incurred as a result of your breaching these terms and conditions.
  5. The information you supply on registration to the LRB Website shall be accurate and complete. You will notify the LRB promptly of any changes of relevant details by emailing the registrar. You will not assist a non-registered person to gain access to the LRB Website by supplying them with your password. In the event that the LRB considers that you have breached the requirements governing registration, that you are in breach of these terms and conditions or that your or your institution's subscription to the LRB lapses, your registration to the LRB Website will be terminated.
  6. Each individual subscriber to the LRB (whether a person or organisation) is entitled to the registration of one person to use the 'subscriber only' content on the web site. This user is an 'individual user'.
  7. The London Review of Books operates a ‘no questions asked’ cancellation policy in accordance with UK legislation. Please contact us to cancel your subscription and receive a full refund for the cost of all unposted issues.
  8. Use of the 'subscriber only' content on the LRB Website is strictly for the personal use of each individual user who may read the content on the screen, download, store or print single copies for their own personal private non-commercial use only, and is not to be made available to or used by any other person for any purpose.
  9. Each institution which subscribes to the LRB is entitled to grant access to persons to register on and use the 'subscriber only' content on the web site under the terms and conditions of its subscription agreement with the LRB. These users are 'institutional users'.
  10. Each institutional user of the LRB may access and search the LRB database and view its entire contents, and may also reproduce insubstantial extracts from individual articles or other works in the database to which their institution's subscription provides access, including in academic assignments and theses, online and/or in print. All quotations must be credited to the author and the LRB. Institutional users are not permitted to reproduce any entire article or other work, or to make any commercial use of any LRB material (including sale, licensing or publication) without the LRB's prior written permission. Institutions may notify institutional users of any additional or different conditions of use which they have agreed with the LRB.
  11. Users may use any one computer to access the LRB web site 'subscriber only' content at any time, so long as that connection does not allow any other computer, networked or otherwise connected, to access 'subscriber only' content.
  12. The LRB Website and its contents are protected by copyright and other intellectual property rights. You acknowledge that all intellectual property rights including copyright in the LRB Website and its contents belong to or have been licensed to the LRB or are otherwise used by the LRB as permitted by applicable law.
  13. All intellectual property rights in articles, reviews and essays originally published in the print edition of the LRB and subsequently included on the LRB Website belong to or have been licensed to the LRB. This material is made available to you for use as set out in paragraph 8 (if you are an individual user) or paragraph 10 (if you are an institutional user) only. Save for such permitted use, you may not download, store, disseminate, republish, post, reproduce, translate or adapt such material in whole or in part in any form without the prior written permission of the LRB. To obtain such permission and the terms and conditions applying, contact the Rights and Permissions department.
  14. All intellectual property rights in images on the LRB Website are owned by the LRB except where another copyright holder is specifically attributed or credited. Save for such material taken for permitted use set out above, you may not download, store, disseminate, republish, post, reproduce, translate or adapt LRB’s images in whole or in part in any form without the prior written permission of the LRB. To obtain such permission and the terms and conditions applying, contact the Rights and Permissions department. Where another copyright holder is specifically attributed or credited you may not download, store, disseminate, republish, reproduce or translate such images in whole or in part in any form without the prior written permission of the copyright holder. The LRB will not undertake to supply contact details of any attributed or credited copyright holder.
  15. The LRB Website is provided on an 'as is' basis and the LRB gives no warranty that the LRB Website will be accessible by any particular browser, operating system or device.
  16. The LRB makes no express or implied representation and gives no warranty of any kind in relation to any content available on the LRB Website including as to the accuracy or reliability of any information either in its articles, essays and reviews or in the letters printed in its letter page or material supplied by third parties. The LRB excludes to the fullest extent permitted by law all liability of any kind (including liability for any losses, damages or costs) arising from the publication of any materials on the LRB Website or incurred as a consequence of using or relying on such materials.
  17. The LRB excludes to the fullest extent permitted by law all liability of any kind (including liability for any losses, damages or costs) for any legal or other consequences (including infringement of third party rights) of any links made to the LRB Website.
  18. The LRB is not responsible for the content of any material you encounter after leaving the LRB Website site via a link in it or otherwise. The LRB gives no warranty as to the accuracy or reliability of any such material and to the fullest extent permitted by law excludes all liability that may arise in respect of or as a consequence of using or relying on such material.
  19. This site may be used only for lawful purposes and in a manner which does not infringe the rights of, or restrict the use and enjoyment of the site by, any third party. In the event of a chat room, message board, forum and/or news group being set up on the LRB Website, the LRB will not undertake to monitor any material supplied and will give no warranty as to its accuracy, reliability, originality or decency. By posting any material you agree that you are solely responsible for ensuring that it is accurate and not obscene, defamatory, plagiarised or in breach of copyright, confidentiality or any other right of any person, and you undertake to indemnify the LRB against all claims, losses, damages and costs incurred in consequence of your posting of such material. The LRB will reserve the right to remove any such material posted at any time and without notice or explanation. The LRB will reserve the right to disclose the provenance of such material, republish it in any form it deems fit or edit or censor it. The LRB will reserve the right to terminate the registration of any person it considers to abuse access to any chat room, message board, forum or news group provided by the LRB.
  20. Any e-mail services supplied via the LRB Website are subject to these terms and conditions.
  21. You will not knowingly transmit any virus, malware, trojan or other harmful matter to the LRB Website. The LRB gives no warranty that the LRB Website is free from contaminating matter, viruses or other malicious software and to the fullest extent permitted by law disclaims all liability of any kind including liability for any damages, losses or costs resulting from damage to your computer or other property arising from access to the LRB Website, use of it or downloading material from it.
  22. The LRB does not warrant that the use of the LRB Website will be uninterrupted, and disclaims all liability to the fullest extent permitted by law for any damages, losses or costs incurred as a result of access to the LRB Website being interrupted, modified or discontinued.
  23. The LRB Website contains advertisements and promotional links to websites and other resources operated by third parties. While we would never knowingly link to a site which we believed to be trading in bad faith, the LRB makes no express or implied representations or warranties of any kind in respect of any third party websites or resources or their contents, and we take no responsibility for the content, privacy practices, goods or services offered by these websites and resources. The LRB excludes to the fullest extent permitted by law all liability for any damages or losses arising from access to such websites and resources. Any transaction effected with such a third party contacted via the LRB Website are subject to the terms and conditions imposed by the third party involved and the LRB accepts no responsibility or liability resulting from such transactions.
  24. The LRB disclaims liability to the fullest extent permitted by law for any damages, losses or costs incurred for unauthorised access or alterations of transmissions or data by third parties as consequence of visit to the LRB Website.
  25. While 'subscriber only' content on the LRB Website is currently provided free to subscribers to the print edition of the LRB, the LRB reserves the right to impose a charge for access to some or all areas of the LRB Website without notice.
  26. These terms and conditions are governed by and will be interpreted in accordance with English law and any disputes relating to these terms and conditions will be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales.
  27. The various provisions of these terms and conditions are severable and if any provision is held to be invalid or unenforceable by any court of competent jurisdiction then such invalidity or unenforceability shall not affect the remaining provisions.
  28. If these terms and conditions are not accepted in full, use of the LRB Website must be terminated immediately.


Vol. 34 No. 5 · 8 March 2012

Search by issue:

The Doom Loop

Andrew Haldane charts the growth of leverage – the alchemist’s stone of bank profitability – over the last 150 years (LRB, 23 February). He doesn’t explain why it reached catastrophically high levels during the last decade both in the UK and elsewhere.

In the 1980s, a committee of central bank regulators chaired by a senior banking supervisor at the Bank of England met under the auspices of the Bank for International Settlements in Basel to tackle the problems caused by the disparity in the rules and practices of banking supervision across the financial world, particularly with regard to leverage ratios. The agreement reached, subsequently known as Basel I, introduced the concept of risk weighting into banking regulation, based on the not unreasonable assessment that different classes of risk assets needed different amounts of capital to support them. Banks would be encouraged to focus on low-risk assets, so as to optimise their use of capital. The intended result would be an improvement in the risk structure of bank balance sheets and a ‘level playing field’ on which international banks could compete.

Basel I worked well enough, but the need to address the challenges of changing financial markets, derivative trading etc led to Basel II in 2004, in which the application of risk weighting went into overdrive. As a result of lobbying by interested parties in the banking fraternity, categories of assets such as those rated AAA by rating agencies or by the banks’ own internal models were no longer subject to capital constraint. This of course went wrong as soon as large swathes of AAA-rated supposedly risk-free assets proved to be anything but, as revealed first by the sub-prime debacle in the US and then in the banking and sovereign debt crisis. In real money terms there simply wasn’t enough capital to absorb the losses. In addition, by legitimising increased gearing on an unprecedented scale, Basel II ignored the potential liquidity implications for banks. Thus when the crisis broke even banks that hadn’t had any real exposure to toxic credits were vulnerable, as sources of funding dried up. Past regulation such as Basel II helped create this banking crisis, so when Haldane tells us that ‘Basel III is a good starting point, but may not be the finishing line,’ it is an exercise in the central banker’s art of understatement.

Although Haldane is right that there has been a failure of systemic governance, his ready exoneration of individual and board responsibility is surprising. It is not, he says, ‘a story of pantomine villains and village idiots’ (though the CEOs of RBS and Lehman Brothers and their respective boards surely merit an audition for these parts), but governance in financial institutions has contributed to the systemic failure. The bonus culture speaks to a radical change in the mores of management and governance in banking, and to undo it will require a more brutal response than Haldane suggests. Senior bank executives and board members should be liable to charges of negligence and reckless lending in the event of bank failure and subject to suspension. Unless there is a determined effort to eliminate the chancers and rogues from the banking industry, the most determined regulatory reforms will come to nothing.

Tim Whalley
London N14

It’s hard to be a bastard

Richard J. Evans, in his review of Sebastian Conrad’s German Colonialism, says it was the Germans in South-West Africa who first officially used the term Konzentrationslager, but they had a fine example to copy in South Africa, where British concentration camps had only a few years earlier served to exterminate more than 26,000 Afrikaner women and children (LRB, 9 February). The British military created concentration camps for black Africans too, and many of them – a figure of 12,000 is cited – also died of exposure, disease and starvation. I also know, at first hand, that the German anthropologist Eugen Fischer didn’t coin the name ‘Rehoboth bastards’ (or ‘basters’). That’s what they called themselves, and still do. Missionaries tried to persuade them that the name was shameful, but they were proud of it. I offer these corrections on behalf of my baster relatives, Hans Dreyer, murdered at Pella on the Orange River around 1810, and Augustinus Dreyer, arrested with his mates near Karasberg in southern Namibia on Christmas Eve 2003 on charges of rustling and slaughtering eight sheep and a donkey. As the old song goes, ‘Dis swaar om ’n Baster te wees!’ It’s hard to be a bastard!

Peter Dreyer
Charlottesville, Virginia

Where the Oil Is

Slavoj Zizek observes that ‘any attempt now to link the rise and fall in the price of oil to the rise or fall in production costs or the price of exploited labour would be meaningless: production costs are negligible as a proportion of the price we pay for oil’ (LRB, 26 January). This is unlikely to hold true for much longer. Contrary to popular belief, the chief supplier of US energy needs isn’t a Middle Eastern theocracy with ready access to bottomless pools of South Asian slave workers. It is Canada, where the largest oil deposits are locked up in the ‘tar sands’ of Alberta. Extracting crude from sodden soil has proved so grossly inefficient and environmentally destructive a process that it promises to keep oil prices climbing (assuming, of course, that the extra burden can’t be wholly externalised with help from a business-friendly government). Ironically, the price adjustments needed to break American dependence on what’s referred to as ‘foreign oil’ become increasingly likely as production moves closer to home.

Adrian Versteegh
New York University

Whose horse?

Writing about Diego Rivera’s The Agrarian Leader Zapata, Hal Foster says: ‘the giant steed that stands with its master approves the final triumph over the fallen enemy’ (LRB, 26 January). I hope I am not doing him an injustice in taking his use of the preposition ‘with’ as implying that he sees Zapata as the horse’s master. For surely the relationship depicted between the two is not that of master to steed, but one of equality based on a shared experience of oppression. Foster notes relevantly that ‘this beast … shares the pure white coat and dark oval eyes of the hero,’ to which I would add that they are of almost equal height (the horse may be full-bodied after the fashion of Uccello, but is hardly ‘giant’). There is mutual recognition in those dark oval eyes, and Zapata doesn’t seem to be grasping the bridle in a gesture of domination so much as preparing to cut it loose with his sickle. Meanwhile the fallen enemy lies in his spurred riding boots next to his sabre, the weapon of choice for cavalry, all of which suggests that the horse is standing not with its master but over him. And now, of course, the horse has no master.

John Black
Vancouver Island University

Universities under attack

Over recent decades, enrolment in UK higher education has risen hugely. But this welcome expansion hasn’t led to sufficient institutional variety. The system needs a more diverse ‘ecology’ and more collaboration between institutions. The United States has several thousand institutions of higher education: there are junior and regional colleges, liberal arts colleges offering top-quality undergraduate education but no graduate degrees, huge state universities (many of them world-class) and the Ivy League private universities. We could do worse than to emulate the Californian system established in the 1950s under the leadership of Clark Kerr, the first chancellor of Berkeley. Its three-level structure of colleges enables an enviable combination of excellence, social reach and flexibility (or did until the Californian budget crisis).

The less selective of our universities are too defensive when berated about drop-out rates and ‘wastage’. An American will say, ‘I had two years of college,’ generally regarding the experience as positive. It’s surely better to take a few risks on admission, to give students a chance, and let some leave after two years with a ‘credit’ without necessarily being typecast as failures – and without the universities feeling pressured to see unwilling students through to graduation.

In the US, only a minority of universities have strong graduate schools. We too should concentrate doctoral study, and encourage networking and clustering of institutions. A PhD student needs more than just a good supervisor: he or she needs exposure to a wide range of courses. Concentration of PhD students need not entail an equivalent concentration of research. Many who teach in the best American liberal arts colleges are productive researchers and advise students affiliated to other universities. A diverse system should ideally include counterparts of the best US liberal arts colleges. (A.C. Grayling’s New College of the Humanities may not be the best model, however: an institution prepared to pay ‘star professors’ so much for doing so little, and which intends to make a profit too, seems unlikely to offer its students good value.)

And another point: academia’s current incentive system underrates broad learning and scholarship. The Robbins Report – a manifesto for university expansion in the 1960s, which had a literacy and depth sadly lacking from its later counterparts – saw the academic as having three duties: teaching, research and ‘reflective inquiry’. ‘Reflective inquiry’ is now being squeezed out. But it’s important for its own sake, as well as for the way it enriches both teaching and research.

Martin Rees

Religion, grrr

Rachel Aviv mentions the very large number of stories contributed by L. Ron Hubbard to Astounding Science Fiction in the 1930s and 1940s (LRB, 26 January). The pioneering and long-serving editor of ASF, John W. Campbell Jr, though gifted and hard-headed in dealing with fiction, was a wide-eyed sucker when confronted by charlatanry masquerading as ‘innovative science’ and accepted all the claims made for Dianetics uncritically. Alfred Bester wrote a hilarious account of a lunch with the editor at which Campbell announced that Hubbard’s doctrine had supplanted Freud’s work; that it would abolish warfare; and that it should make Hubbard a suitable candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Sebastian Robinson

Unfair to Expats

I was dismayed by Jeremy Harding’s fantasy about the prospect of Britain refusing entry to ‘ever growing numbers of British returnees – 80,000 plus in 2008 – rethinking their options in Dubai or on the Costa Brava’ (LRB, 9 February). I am a retired EU official who elected to return to the UK after clocking up a quarter century of employment in Continental Europe. My family was among the ‘80,000 plus’ that year. However, the misgivings we felt about returning were a great deal more painful than my original decision had been, in 1981, to leave the UK for an indefinite period. There is a widespread tendency to stereotype all expatriates as over-privileged, tax-shirking cynics. In the same vein, Jeremy Harding is now content to portray expatriate ‘returnees’ as disappointed opportunists who fall back on their country of birth faute de mieux. This is grossly unfair to the thousands of Britons approaching the end of their careers abroad, as opposed to those simply disporting themselves in a sunnier climate.

Robin Charleston
Saxilby, Lincolnshire

Views from Elsewhere

In your issue dated 23 February, you publish five letters from the US, and one each from France, South Africa and Brazil. I know some people think the Brits these days are all illiterate. Am I to conclude that you are out to prove it? Or have you sent me the overseas edition by mistake?

David Lea
House of Lords

Read anywhere with the London Review of Books app, available now from the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices and Amazon for your Kindle Fire.

Sign up to our newsletter

For highlights from the latest issue, our archive and the blog, as well as news, events and exclusive promotions.