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Prior to the Vietnam War, American intellectual life rested comfortably on shared assumptions and often common ideals. Intellectuals largely supported the social and economic reforms of the 1930s, the war against Hitler's Germany, and U.S. conduct during the Cold War. By the early 1960s, a liberal intellectual consensus existed. The war in Southeast Asia shattered this liberal consensus by causing a relentless series of crises which effectively undermined its fundamental assumptions. Throughout these years, a sense of passion and urgency prevailed, as idealism, optimism, and American exceptionalism gave way to disillusionment, pessimism, and a diminished confidence in and trimmed expectations for American life. For all involved, the war in Vietnam assumed apocalyptic dimensions, as somehow the very best or very worst America had to offer seemed at stake. Apocalypse Then stands as the definitive account of the impact of the Vietnam War on American intellectual life.