Mike Eckers will be speaking about his latest book "Colors in the Earth" at the Dodge Center Library on March 5.
By Tara Lindquist
Historical speaker and author, Michael Eckers has released his sixth book and number three in his series, "Colors."
His latest book titled "Colors in the Earth" tells the story of Dautin Weldon, another in the generations of a family dedicated to actively serving in the American Armed Forces. The series is loosely based on his own family who has had sixteen generations serve in the military.
The story follows Dautin's enlistment in the Army before President Wilson declares war on Germany, during World War I. Trained in trench warfare by French advisors, Dautin leads a squad that is among the first to "go over there" in the early summer of 1917. Witnessing the horrors of modern fighting with machine guns and chemical weapons, Dautin and the others gain the experience to become instructors for the many thousands of doughboys who follow them to France. The book follows the young soldier through the trenches of Europe to being injured in France, recovering in a French hospital, being cared for by an American nurse, to finding his nurse back in the states. The story is loosely based on Eckers' own great-grandparents. It's a book that has more lessons in historical communication, love and family than it does of the gruesome realities of war. "All of my books have their own stories, ones that aren't just about the history of wars, they are personal stories from the people that fought in battles."
Eckers' "Colors" book series are all based on his ancestors' experiences and stories of serving in the military. "The books don't follow a timeline," he explained. "I started the series in the middle with the first book 'Northern Colors' which took place during the Civil War. It was the first to come out in the series but will actually be number four in his completed series. "My series, when completed, will start with the Spanish American War and go to the war on terrorism," he said. "As I go further into the series it will become a little harder, especially the Vietnam War because those will be my stories, the life I lived. The 'War on Terror' will be about the life my son is living now as an officer in the Navy." Even though the books aren't written yet, he knows the book titles and what they will be about. He typically spends about nine months to a year writing a book and said the hardest part is looking at the maps and trying to figure out how long it would have taken each character to travel from one place to another using that era's form of transportation. "There's a lot of research that goes into the writing but most of it is my family's history."
Eckers has studied American military history since he was teenager, served in the US Navy and has spent the past ten years speaking in schools and at events on American history. "I go to the schools dressed up in character, it really engages the students and gives them an idea of what it was really like to live back then." Eckers believes the costumes give him an advantage over just speaking; it makes the stories, the history, come alive. He uses many personas in his public speaking engagements, he presents the Civil War as a Union Brigadier General, and he appears as a news reporter covering the war front when speaking on World War II. "I get to tell the stories as a person who has lived that life," he said. "It's truly a passion of mine."
Along with his "Colors" series, Eckers has written three other books, "Losing your Zip," "Wisconsin Iron" and "The Boys of Wasioja." All books are available on Amazon.com in print as well as an EBook. The books are also available for sale at the Mantorville Art Guild in Mantorville and The Little Professor Book Store in Owatonna.
To celebrate the publishing of his latest book, Eckers will hold two book signings locally, the first on February 28 at the Steele County History Center in Owatonna; that will be his official book release. On Tuesday, March 5, Eckers will hold a book signing at the Dodge Center Public Library at 6:30 p.m.
For more information on Eckers' speaking engagements or books you can visit his website at www.michaeleckers.com.