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Fallen Angels Book Summary

A Novel of the Vietnam War

by Walter Dean Myers

Fallen Angels

A Novel of the Vietnam War

Walter Dean Myers


Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers is a gripping and realistic young adult novel that delves into the harrowing experiences of Richie Perry, a young Black soldier fighting in the Vietnam War. The story follows Richie and his platoon as they navigate the physical and emotional challenges of combat, confront the horrors of war, and grapple with issues of racism, fear, and loss. Myers’s poignant narrative captures the complexities of war and its profound impact on young lives.

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Author & Writing Background

Walter Dean Myers was a prolific and acclaimed American writer known for his impactful novels for children and young adults, particularly focusing on the experiences of African American youth. He often drew inspiration from his own life and experiences, including his time serving in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War, which heavily influenced ‘Fallen Angels.’ Myers’s writing is characterized by its authenticity, emotional depth, and unflinching portrayal of social issues.

Key Takeaways

The Horrors of War

The novel vividly depicts the brutal realities of war, including the constant fear of death, the gruesome sights and sounds of combat, and the psychological toll it takes on soldiers.

Coming-of-Age in the Midst of Conflict

Richie’s journey is a coming-of-age story set against the backdrop of war. He grapples with fear, loss, and disillusionment as he confronts the realities of combat and the complexities of adulthood.

Racism and Inequality

Myers explores the issue of racism both within the military and in American society, highlighting the challenges faced by Black soldiers and the systemic inequalities they encounter.

Friendship and Brotherhood

The bonds of friendship and camaraderie among the soldiers provide a source of support and strength in the face of adversity. Richie’s relationships with his fellow soldiers help him cope with the trauma of war.

Moral Dilemmas and the Cost of War

The novel raises ethical questions about the nature of war and the justifications for violence. Richie and his fellow soldiers grapple with the moral complexities of their actions and the consequences of war.

Survival and Resilience

Despite the horrors they witness and endure, the soldiers demonstrate remarkable resilience and find ways to survive both physically and emotionally.

Loss and Grief

The novel explores the themes of loss and grief as Richie and his platoon experience the deaths of their comrades and confront the emotional toll of war.

Anti-War Sentiment

Myers’s novel is a powerful indictment of war and its devastating impact on individuals and society. It raises questions about the human cost of conflict and the futility of violence.

FAQ about Fallen Angels

Is Fallen Angels based on a true story?

While Fallen Angels is a work of fiction, it draws heavily on Walter Dean Myers’s own experiences serving in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War. The novel’s realism and authenticity stem from Myers’s firsthand knowledge of the war and its impact on soldiers.

What are some of the main themes explored in Fallen Angels?

Fallen Angels explores themes of war and its horrors, coming-of-age, racism and inequality, friendship and brotherhood, moral dilemmas, survival and resilience, loss and grief, and anti-war sentiment.

Is Fallen Angels appropriate for young readers?

Fallen Angels is intended for young adult readers and deals with mature themes, including violence, death, and racism. While the novel can be a valuable tool for exploring these complex issues, it’s important for parents and educators to consider the maturity level of the reader.

Fallen Angels Quotes

  • ”The war had changed me. I was no longer the same person who had stepped off the plane in Vietnam. I was harder, more cynical, and I no longer believed in the things I once had."
  • "We were just kids, really, trying to do our jobs and stay alive. But the war had a way of making you old before your time."
  • "I realized that the only way to survive was to focus on the present, to take things one day at a time. The future was too uncertain, too full of possibilities that I didn’t want to think about.”