The past and future Hannah Arendt found herself between did not inspire complacency. In the past was the nihilism of European culture and politics between the two world wars, the rise of Fascism, the failure of revolutionary Marxism, and finally, the Holocaust. The future looked equally grim, with the prospect of nuclear war, threatened destruction of the natural environment, and the numbing meaninglessness of life in industrialized, bureaucratized societies. In thought, Arendt never moved away from this painful present intersection between the horrors of the past and dangers of the future. In the late twentieth century, with no stable tradition or values intact, with the humanist ideals of the Enlightenment irrevocably compromised, she saw no nonillusory alternative. Her main business as a thinker, as she understood it, was to understand what has happened and what has been done, to learn to live with that knowledge, and to anticipate the future.