Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers is a young adult novel about seventeen-year-old Richie Perry, a Harlem teenager who volunteers for the Army when unable to afford college and is sent to fight in the Vietnam War. Perry and his platoon—Peewee, Lobel, Johnson, and Brunner—come face-to-face with the Vietcong, the harsh realities of war, and some dark truths about themselves. A thoughtful young man with a gift for writing and love of basketball, Perry learns to navigate among fellow soldiers under tremendous stress and struggles with his own fear as he sees things he’ll never forget: the filling of body bags, the deaths of civilians and soldier friends, the effects of claymore mines, the fires of Napalm, and jungle diseases like Nam Rot.
Available as an e-book for the first time on the 25th anniversary of its publication, Fallen Angels has been called one of the best Vietnam War books ever and one of the great coming-of-age Vietnam War stories. Filled with unforgettable characters, not least Peewee Gates of Chicago who copes with war by relying on wisecracks and dark humor, Fallen Angels “reaches deep into the minds of soldiers” and makes “readers feel they are there, deep in the heart of war.”
Fallen Angels has won numerous awards and honors, including the Coretta Scott King Award, an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, aBooklist Editors Choice, and a School Library Journal Best Book. Fallen Angels was #16 on the American Library Association’s list of the most frequently challenged books of 1990–2000 for its realistic depiction of war and those who fight in wars.