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Donald L. Miller, John Henry MacCracken Professor of History at Lafayette, is a featured on-camera expert in “Victory in the Pacific,” a program on the longest-running, most-watched history series on television, PBS’ American Experience, to air Monday, May 2. American Experience airs Monday nights nationwide at 9 p.m. on most PBS stations.

Miller’s book The Story of World War II (Simon & Schuster, 2001) is listed as a main source for “Victory in the Pacific” on the program’s companion web site, which describes the program as a “provocative, thorough examination of the final months of the war…from the vantage points of both the Japanese and the Americans….From the U.S. capture of the Mariana Islands through the firebombing of Tokyo and the dropping of the atomic bomb, Victory in the Pacific chronicles the dreadful and unprecedented loss of life and the decisions made by leaders on both sides that finally ended the war.”

Miller’s most recent book, D-Days in the Pacific (Simon & Schuster/Lou Reda; April 4, 2005), is a sweeping chronicle of the four-year battle for Pacific dominance in World War II. A greatly revised and expanded version of the Pacific chapters of The Story of World War II, D-Days coincides with the 60th anniversary of the final stages of the war with Japan, which culminated in that country’s surrender on Aug. 15, 1945. The 448-page book is a companion volume to a three-part History Channel program of the same name that will air this spring.

Miller also has been selected from 200 candidates nationwide by The National D-Day Museum in New Orleans for its first yearlong fellowship, which includes a role as co-chair of its International WWII ConferenceOct. 5-9. Expected to be the largest World War II conference ever, it will bring together historians, World War II veterans, and other participants from all over the world to discuss the evolution and implications of World War II thought and writings over the last 60 years. In addition to Miller, conference speakers will include Ken Burns, Sir Max Hastings, Andy Rooney, Austin Hoyt, Viscount David Montgomery, and Enola Gay Commander Paul Tibbets.

In writing D-Days in the Pacific, his seventh book, Miller enlisted Lafayette student Emily Goldberg ’05 (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.), a history and government & law major, as chief student researcher and Alexandra Kenney ’06 (Springfield, Va.), a double major in history and economics & business, and Jessica Cygler ’07 (Scarsdale, N.Y.) as assistants.

“The students were involved in every aspect of this book and were really a tremendous help,” says Miller, who thanks them in the book. The students conducted research, helped assemble the bibliography, did copy editing and fact checking, proofread the manuscript, and worked with Simon & Schuster staff.

The students worked with Miller through Community of Scholars, a Lafayette program supported by the Mellon Foundation, which provides distinctive opportunities for students to participate in research projects led by faculty in the humanities and social sciences. Community of Scholars is part of Lafayette’s thriving EXCEL Scholars program, which provides stipends to more than 160 students each year for research with faculty in all divisions of the College. Many of these students share their work through articles in academic journals and/or conference presentations.

In D-Days in the Pacific, Miller tells much of the story through eyewitness accounts of soldiers, sailors, pilots, nurses, journalists, and POWs who were at the face of combat in some of the most memorable battles in history: Guadalcanal, Midway, Tarawa, Saipan, Pelelieu, New Guinea, Leyte Gulf, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa. The book ends with an unforgettable account, from the ground and in the air, of the atomic attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Far more than a blow-by-blow account of amphibious landings and great sea, air, and land battles, Miller introduces the reader to characters behind the lines, below decks, and inside briefing rooms, while highlighting lesser-known accomplishments by African-Americans, women, and Japanese-Americans. And in describing the tremendous carnage resulting from suicide attacks by desperate Japanese forces, Miller considers the moral ambiguity of a contest that became a battle of attrition fueled by racial hatred.

While the term “D-Day” has come to stand for one event, the invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944, Miller points out that the term is the military expression for the start of any offensive. In World War II the term came to be used most commonly in amphibious operations, attacks launched from the sea by naval and landing forces against a hostile shore. In the vast Pacific there were over a hundred D-Day invasions, including the largest amphibious operation in history — the April 1, 1945 invasion of Okinawa. It brought to the enemy’s shore the largest invasion fleet ever assembled, more soldiers, sailors, and ships than took part in the Normandy landings.

Miller received critical acclaim for the book The Story of World War II (Simon & Schuster, 2001), a revised, expanded, and updated version of Henry Steele Commager’s classic book The Story of the Second World War. In 2003, PBS aired a four-hour American Experience series based on Miller’s book City of the Century: The Epic of Chicago and the Making of America, which won a Great Lakes Book Award. He also played a multifaceted role in the production of “Ulysses S. Grant,” a four-hour American Experience program that premiered on PBS television in 2002.

Miller is also lead scholar and on-air host of A Biography of America, a video series and telecourse that aired on PBS stations throughout the country in 2000-01. The 26 half-hour programs cover the sweep of American history, from the pre-Columbian beginnings to the present. He has played significant roles in other PBS series.

He was featured as an on-air scholar in The History Channel’s “April 1865: The Month That Saved America” and has been an on-air host for its Movies in Time series.

Miller’s Lewis Mumford, A Life (Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 1989), the first full-scale biography of Mumford, was named one of the notable books of the year by the editors of the New York Times Book Review.

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