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The PBS American Experience program, “Victory in the Pacific,” which was based in large part on the book The Story of World War II by Donald L. Miller, John Henry MacCracken Professor of History, has been nominated for three Emmy Awards.

The 27th Annual News and Documentary Emmy Awards presented by the National Television Academy will be held Sept. 25 in New York City. The segment, which aired May 2, 2005, is in the running for Outstanding Historical Programming- Long Form; Outstanding Individual Achievement in a Craft: Writing; and Outstanding Individual Achievement in a Craft: Research. The film will be competing against programs running the gamut of topics produced by The History Channel, HBO, Cinemax, and The National Geographic Channel.

Miller actually initiated the project when he forwarded The Story of World War II (Simon & Schuster, 2001) to Austin Hoyt at PBS. Hoyt, who wrote, directed and produced “Victory in the Pacific,” based the program on the chapters in the book which focused on the World War II Pacific campaign. Miller was also a chief scriptwriting and historical consultant and appeared throughout the film as an on-camera expert.

“Hoyt did a wonderful job of bringing a huge amount of information together and the film really moved like a rocket,” says Miller. “I’m proud of our work together.”

The program looked at the final year of the Pacific campaign. It portrayed the devastating final battles, such as Leyte Gulf, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa, by featuring numerous first-hand experiences of Japanese and American soldiers and civilians. It also explored the rationale for dropping the atomic bomb and provided a glimpse into the decision-making process of the Japanese military.

Miller’s book contains a tremendous amount of previously unpublished eyewitness interviews. The book uses personal accounts of soldiers, sailors, airmen, nurses, and war correspondents to provide historical context for the war in the Pacific, the air war, the liberation of the death camps, and the contributions of African-Americans, women, and Japanese-Americans.

It has also received a great deal of critical acclaim.

Historian David McCullough, author of John Adams, says, “The Story of World War II is a major publishing event. Donald Miller’s additions to the original account are outstanding and the total effect is one few readers will ever forget.”

Miller has actively engaged Lafayette students in research for many of his eight published books through the EXCEL Scholars program, in which students conduct research with faculty while earning a stipend. The program has helped make Lafayette a national leader in undergraduate research. Many of the more than 160 students who participate each year share their work through articles in academic journals and/or conference presentations.

Emily Goldberg ’05, who graduated with an A.B. in history and government & law, has served as Miller’s chief student researcher and has helped him with this and many other projects. She has conducted research, assembled bibliographies, copyedited, fact checked, and proofed manuscripts. Her honors thesis, on World War II photographers and what role they played in forming public opinion about the war, was also completed with Miller as her advisor.

Other students who helped Miller with this project are: Janine Stavrovsky ’03, who graduated with an A.B. in environmental biology and geology; Alexandra Kenney ’06, who graduated with an A.B with majors in history and economics & business; and Jess Cygler ’07 (Scarsdale, N.Y.), a double major in English and history.

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 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 was 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 covered the sweep of American history, from the pre-Columbian beginnings to the present.

Miller’s upcoming book, Masters of the Air: America’s Bomber Boys Who Fought the Air War Against Nazi Germany, is being published in October by Simon & Schuster. He is currently working on The Crisis of the Confederacy: The Siege of Vicksburg.

Categorized in: Academic News