About Erich Eipert

Erich Eipert is the author of historical nonfiction and adventure novels available in ebook and paperback versions.

Kate Shelley: train rescuer Part II—and a railroad trestle in my past

Kate Shelley: train rescuer Part II

An Iowa trestle from the author's childhood: bridge across Pittman Creek near West Point, Iowa - photo taken by Mary Eipert shortly before demolition of bridge

For those who took an interest in the story of Kate Shelley, I’d like to share a few more interesting tidbits. According to the accounts I’ve read, after the death of her husband and son Kate’s mother not only lapsed into poor physical health, she also lost her spirit. I suppose that means she broke mentally and could no longer adequately care for and raise her children. This placed a terrible burden of responsibility on Kate, her oldest child, and Kate sacrificed her own childhood and later independence in order to fill this void and take care of her family. She was not recognized for this heroic act. Continue reading

Kate Shelley: train rescuer

Kate Shelley Bridge - 1900 replacement of original trestle. Flickr/David Wilson.

You won’t find a better example of real-life heroism than the story of a brave fifteen-year-old Iowa girl named Kate Shelley. I can picture what this girl went through because I grew up not so far from the Des Moines River, and near a railway with a high, scary trestle that I crossed a few times.

Continue reading

A boy, a gun, and a moral dilemma: Revolver by Marcus Sedgwick

Although I’ve disliked the cold ever since my army infantry training days, I do like to read about it. The setting is one reason I picked up Revolver, by Marcus Sedgwick. A turn-of-the-century gold field and the environs of an iron mine in the frozen north of Alaska (OK, that north isn’t really frozen all year round but it always makes for a more dramatic description) provide the setting for this adventure novel. While this sounds like the very ingredient of a riveting Jack London story, I should warn you at the outset to be prepared for something slightly different. Continue reading

Jim Hawkins, Treasure Island, and a little moral ambiguity too

Treasure Island stands out as a classic of young adventure fiction for good reason. Robert Louis Stevenson’s tale has survived the test of time because it is fast paced enough for the modern reader, packed with action and heroism that the young readily take to, and populated mostly with characters who leave little doubt about whose side they’re on. I say mostly, because one exception added a new element to this type of adventure fiction in the 1880’s—moral ambiguity. But more about that below. Continue reading

A Christmas Eve hero

I swear we’re going to get serious about highlighting young heroes again. And soon! But who can let this holiday pass without touting this animal hero. Since I can’t do better than the original, I’ll let the song lyrics do the talking.

Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer
had a very shiny nose. Continue reading

Like Icarus, a brush with the sun; and a tale of a tail

NASA/courtesy of nasaimages.org

A recently featured post here, the rat as hero, seems to have opened the door to other unlikely heroes. Here’s a hero even farther out. Please take this adjective farther very literally because I’m talking comet. This past week a small comet defied what astronomers expected would be certain destruction in a close orbital encounter with the sun and re-emerged to continue on its way. Understand, a comet isn’t sentient so it can’t possibly be considered a hero in the same sense as a human. But this is certainly as close as a dirtball can come to being a hero! Continue reading

Medal of Honor for Dakota Meyer meets the politics of dishonor

Throughout human history distinguished warriors have been honored as the quintessential heroes and no discussion of heroes can pretend to be complete without including them. I’d planned to begin posting the stories of several young war heroes very soon but a news story that just broke, Marines promoted inflated story for Medal of Honor recipient, has prompted me to jump in with this commentary. What follows should be a very disturbing story to anyone who has put their life on the line in the service of their country during war. It concerns the young marine hero of a deadly Afghanistan ambush and the intrusion of politics into a process that needs to remain above reproach. Continue reading

Rats as heroes. Really!

“rats might be capable of heroic acts in the cause of other rats”

When I began this blog I hadn’t considered heroism as anything but a human (or possibly primate) trait. Sure, I knew there were plenty of animals touted as heroes. On the fiction side dogs have been the stars of top rated TV shows in decades past. I’m talking Lassie and Rin Tin Tin (new book: Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend, by Susan Orlean @2011).  They saved their masters week after week. And animated animal heroes have been around the best part of a century. Many, such as Mickey Mouse and his friends, even became a part of our popular culture. The animated hero list now takes in ants, mice, dogs, woodpeckers, roadrunners, magpies, crows, ducks, spiders, horses, pigs, flying squirrels, moose, monkeys, owls, to name a few. Continue reading

Maria Guadalupe DeLarios, a young woman who followed her dreams

Adventure and bravery come in many shapes and forms. The following real-life account of a girl following her dreams is a contribution passed on to me by Marie Murphy of Running Springs, California at the recently concluded ‘49ers Encampment in Death Valley National Park. The young adventurer Marie describes is her grandmother.

Maria Guadalupe DeLarios was born in the beautiful exotic fishing village of Veracruz, Mexico in 1898. She was orphaned as a child but was blessed to be adopted by a wealthy family with whom she lived until she reached the age of sixteen. Guadalupe always loved to dance and sing and expressed her desire to become an entertainer and work on stage. However, the theatrical profession was not considered a proper one for women. So, at the age of sixteen, amidst threats of losing her inheritance, she followed her dream and boarded a stagecoach for her long trip alone to the United States. Continue reading

A young fictional hero from Payback at Morning Peak by Gene Hackman

Here’s another 19th century young western hero, but a fictional one this time. The book is Payback at Morning Peak by Gene Hackman. Okay, I’ll admit that I picked up the book out of curiosity to see if the former actor can write.

Northern New Mexico and central Colorado provide the setting for this novel. Jubal, a 17 year old boy, is out hunting when he hears shots and sees smoke at his family’s farmstead. He returns to find his family under attack by a gang of lawless rowdies. To his horror, he finds his father gagged, trussed up, and suspended over a roaring bonfire. Seeing the indescribable agony his father is experiencing in being roasted alive, Jubal knows he must reach inside himself and shoot his father. Jubal’s mother is already dead and his sister is dying. Both have been brutally raped. Continue reading

Two Death Valley heroes

Death Valley is nothing if not a historical and geological theme park. Because of its many short-lived mining booms, it has left behind an abundance of interesting and compelling characters. The recorded history began with the first sizeable group of wagons that traversed the valley, and it is from this party that a couple of young heroes emerged. Continue reading

Just what is a hero?

Today the word hero is in danger of losing its meaning because of overuse and commercialization. Now the term is more about marketing and flattery than anything heroic. I believe heroism requires personal risk and an act of courage in the interest of others. It is more than someone simply doing his or her job competently, even in the face of difficulty. With this ideal in mind, I aim to highlight some young heroes worth reading about.

Before doing any actual acclaiming of young heroes, perhaps a little explaining is called for. The logical place to begin might be the definition of the word hero, if for no other reason than to remind ourselves what the word is supposed to mean. The Dictionary.com definition below is representative of various dictionaries (for female heroes, sometimes called heroines, substitute the appropriate pronouns). Continue reading