This article originally appeared in the February issue of Military Officer.


As a history professor at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., the career path of Greg Daddis, who has a doctorate in American history, couldn't have been further from the movie business. However, after two executives visited the school on a research trip, the former Army armored cavalry colonel found himself part of the team for The Vietnam War, the latest project by noted documentarians Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. 

The big picture

The Florentine Films team had their own set of fact checkers, so the historian advisors offered counsel on larger themes - debates within the current scholarship on the war, and insights into potential source materials. 

To me, seeing individual Vietnamese have such a prominent voice in this film is what is so fresh. Hearing their voices from across the political spectrum is a major accomplishment in this film.

Birds of a feather

It was a special treat to watch writer Geoff Ward work throughout the process. And I got the chance to work with other specialist historians - on the French-Indochina War, on the antiwar movement, on the Vietnamese experience. It was all pretty humbling. 

Favorite military film

The Best Years of Our Lives (1946). It remains one of the very best films about how veterans return home from war and deal with the long-term consequences of military service. 

An inside look

The entire team was professional, down-to-earth, genuinely inquisitive, and dedicated to telling a story that resonated with the American public. 

And, for me, it was really cool to have a small window into how the documentary process unfolded behind the scenes, especially from such amazing directors as Lynn Novick and Ken Burns.

Go-to movie snack

Junior Mints. Chocolate and mint - what's not to like?  

What's next?

'I'd like to see a really good movie about the 1968 Tet offensive. There is so much material there - from both the American and Vietnamese perspectives - that I think you could tell a compelling story that is both interesting and historically accurate.'

- By Marc Acton