By Robert R. Tomes
Prior to the Vietnam conflict, American highbrow existence rested conveniently on shared assumptions and sometimes universal beliefs. Intellectuals mostly supported the social and financial reforms of the Nineteen Thirties, the warfare opposed to Hitler's Germany, and U.S. behavior in the course of the chilly struggle. by way of the early Sixties, a liberal highbrow consensus existed.
The struggle in Southeast Asia shattered this fragile coalition, which quickly dissolved into a number of camps, every one of which puzzled American associations, values, and beliefs. Robert R. Tomes sheds new gentle at the death of chilly battle liberalism and the advance of the hot Left, and the regular development of a conservatism that used Vietnam, and anti-war sentiment, as a rallying aspect. Importantly, Tomes offers new proof that neoconservatism retreated from internationalism due mostly to Vietnam, simply to regroup later with considerably reduced targets and expectations.
Covering substantial archival terrain, Apocalypse Then stands because the definitive account of the influence of the Vietnam warfare on American highbrow existence.
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Additional info for Apocalypse Then: American Intellectuals and the Vietnam War, 1954-1975
The United States was about to ﬁght a war to stop the spread of communism in Southeast Asia. To understand this remarkable paradox, one must step back from the local problem, which was how best to achieve a desirable situation for the United States in South Vietnam, and examine the global problem of how the United States could best stop the spread of communism, a concern which certainly dominated the thinking of policymakers and intellectuals in the postwar years. This intersection of global and local issues was the most signiﬁcant policymaking development during the years of support for Diem, and was absolutely central to the emerging debate among intellectuals.
Outspoken opponents of an American foreign policy it deemed imperialistic, Studies on the Left enthusiastically supported Fidel Castro and Che Guevara in the early 1960s. From the beginning, the New Left sought to distinguish itself from the liberal mainstream it held in contempt. Studies on the Left promoted revisionist history, and viewed the American past negatively. Its bitter reassessments provided a sharp contrast to the liberal history of the day, which so often celebrated American exceptionalism.
As a dissident minority group well outside the mainstream of the country’s intellectual life, conservatives were quite self-conscious, seeming to realize their lack of continuity with the American past and its traditions. Ashamed of values and attitudes traditionally associated with the American political right, such as white supremacy, nativism, and anti-Catholicism, conservative intellectuals of the 1950s often found their ideals outside the American experience—in such traditions as Burkean England, the economics of Adam Smith, or the anticommunist Catholicism of Pope Pius XII.