When you first pick up the new British political magazine Standpoint, John Dugdale writes in The Guardian, you notice immediately "how good it looks."
What else would you expect, given that the artist David Hockney sits on Standpoint's advisory board? Since the first issue, published in June, editor Alan Johnson has commissioned a series of exclusive new sketches from Hockney, plus contributions from firstrate writers ranging from Clive James to Robert Conquest.
Published by the Social Affairs Unit, a right-leaning think tank, Standpoint hopes to revive the tradition of Encounter, the anti-communist (but not right-wing) journal whose glory days were in the 1950s. Encounter was also, for a time, secretly funded by the CIA. Johnson isn't following that tradition. But Standpoint is living up to Encounter's reputation as a conclave of the world's most interesting and influential intellectuals, chewing on everything from the The Sopranos to Solzhenitsyn to the overrated spy novels of John Le Carré.