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It is from Crash Course World History. It is at 6 minute and 53 second. Here it goes:

Although soldiers lived then, as now, under conditions it is difficult to imagine, there was more then even the threat of death to distress them.

I cannot get whether speaker means by as now that the conditions were much horrible in the past, or that they are as horrible as in the past.

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The phrase

as now

is used to compare the current times with the past

Although soldiers lived then, as now,
Although soldiers lived back then, as they do nowadays,

The writer is saying both now and in the past conditions are horrible.

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