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Maus #1

Maus: A Survivor's Tale: My Father Bleeds History

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Maus is the story of Vladek Spiegelman, a Jewish survivor of Hitler's Europe, and his son, a cartoonist who tries to come to terms with his father, his father's terrifying story, and History itself. Its form, the cartoon, succeeds perfectly in shocking us out of any lingering sense of familiarity with the events described, approaching, as it does, the unspeakable through the diminutive. It is, as the New York Times Book Review has commented, "a remarkable feat of documentary detail and novelistic vividness...an unfolding literary event."

Moving back and forth from Poland to Rego Park, New York, Maus tells two powerful stories: the first is Spiegelman's father's account of how he and his wife survived Hitler's Europe, a harrowing tale filled with countless brushes with death, improbable escapes, and the terror of confinement and betrayal. The second is the author's tortured relationship with his aging father as they try to lead a normal life of minor arguments and passing visits against a backdrop of history too large to pacify. At all levels, this is the ultimate survivor's tale - and that, too, of the children who somehow survive even the survivors.

Part I of Maus takes Spiegelman's parents to the gates of Auschwitz and him to the edge of despair. Put aside all your preconceptions. These cats and mice are not Tom and Jerry, but something quite different. This is a new kind of literature.

160 pages, Paperback

First published August 12, 1986

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About the author

Art Spiegelman

163 books2,667 followers
Art Spiegelman (born Itzhak Avraham ben Zeev) is New-York-based comics artist, editor, and advocate for the medium of comics, best known for his Pulitzer Prize-winning comic memoir, Maus.

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5 stars
181,141 (57%)
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3 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 9,132 reviews
Profile Image for Mario the lone bookwolf.
797 reviews3,640 followers
September 11, 2022
A way to deal with the unspeakable that makes it even more disturbing and weird.

Using animals for certain nations is a balancing act
It´s still a great work, but maybe all the same animals of one species would have been an even better choice. Not just because it would have been ideal to show that they´re all the same, just different, let's say with dogs or cats and many breeds, but because it´s just an unnecessary point of criticism that could have easily been avoided. It's petty and art is free, but some nations might not find it that great to be associated with certain animals.

Definitively nothing for kids or even some adults
It´s just too hardcore, by using anthropomorphized animals and the art of painting, it gets even worse and kind of more graphic. But the impact and mind blowing factor are amazing, because it´s

Much more memorable that way than in general anti war productions
Because people are used to war movies, games, satires, pictures, etc., which creates a kind of habituation effect and deadening, but this is something different and more tangible. Each page screams out the terror, the underlying themes are the sickest possible for even the most murderous apes on the planet, and one will never forget the associations between the pictures and reality itself.

It could be used for visualizing other atrocities too
There have been other genocides in colonial history without numbers of the people killed, starved to death, or infected with plagues and no real interest in redemption by giving back land to Native Americans of both Americas or historical revisionism. Let´s say removing statues and street names of mass murderers in the US, just imagine this in Germany with nazi leaders and the swastika instead of slave trading warmongerers and the confederate flag. Impossible and unthinkable in Europe after WW2, but in the bible belt, it´s totally fine more than 150 years after the American civil war.
Even more disturbing is the 20th century history of Russia and China with numbers between dozens of millions up to 100 million people killed per country. Especially adapted to one country and its history, the Maus concept would have immense potential for opening minds and maybe even something like redemption and a real reappraisal of history besides political correct drivel, bigotry, and empty promises. The crazy and disturbing thing is that it would mean imprisonment or even death for the artists creating such works in many countries that are still developing or already full scale dictatorships, with advanced surveillance technologies making the police states seem too perfectly developed to ever fall. Because resistance and rebellion have become impossible.

Tropes show how literature is conceptualized and created and which mixture of elements makes works and genres unique:
Profile Image for Diane S ☔.
4,740 reviews14.1k followers
February 3, 2022
I'm not a graphic novel reader for the most part. I've probably only ever read five or six, but if a book is going to be banned, I'm going to read it to find out why. This is a book that is based on this Pulitzer prize winners own father. In the story the father, portrayed as a mouse, is telling his painful story to his son, who happens to be a graphic artist. It is a different and maybe a little less harrowing way to show the many abuses of the Holocaust. Less so because of the figures used and the form in which it is told.

A school in Tennessee seems to be banning this book that is on the eighth grade list. I've had seven children, now grown, and would have no problem with them reading this book. Eighth graders are already exposed to many worse things than this horrific historical event. Video games,, Facebook, snap chat to name a few. I don't agree with book banning in any way shape or form. What are these parents afraid of? I could offer my opinion, but won't. This world is already bereft of understanding, empathy and sympathy, kindness. This book might elicit some.

They have proposed this after more than twenty years onto the bestsellers list. If you are a member of scribe there is a pdf that can be downloaded.
Profile Image for Regan.
446 reviews109k followers
June 9, 2023

Very very very powerful and I like that you see the relationship between Spiegelman and his father throughout.
Profile Image for Caro (Bookaria).
615 reviews19.5k followers
January 11, 2019
I am extremely moved by this book, it is as relevant and important today as it was when it was first published over 30 years ago, possibly even more so.

Maus tells the story of Vladek Spielgeman, a Jewish survivor of the Holocaust. His son, Art Spiegelman, is an illustrator and wants to write the story of his father's experiences during World War II. The story is also of Art himself, the interviews and relationship with his father.

The story alternates between the present day interviews and shifts into the past through Vladek's recollections. The illustrations are straightforward and in a black-and-white style.

I highly recommend this book, it is a powerful and emotional story. I am starting the second volume right away.

FINAL NOTE: below is what I found to be one of the most powerful scenes in the book.

Profile Image for Andy Marr.
Author 2 books716 followers
April 23, 2023
A genuine work of Art (Spiegelman).

I purchased The Complete Maus a few weeks ago, but the first 200 pages destroyed me so completely that I've had to lay it down, probably forever. Still, it's very easy to see why the book is considered such a classic. I only wish I'd had to strength to finish it.
Profile Image for Diane.
1,080 reviews2,656 followers
January 10, 2014
The Maus books were just as incredible as promised. I was deeply moved by Spiegelman's story about his father's experiences in Poland and Auschwitz during World War II.

My ancestors are from Germany and my mother was a WWII buff -- our bookshelves at home were filled with hundreds of books about that war. When I asked her why she was so fascinated by that period, she said she was trying to understand how something like the Holocaust could have happened. Now I'm an adult and I often read books about atrocities around the world. Even though they are depressing and soul-crushing, I guess I'm also just trying to understand how people can do such horrible things.

But I digress. Despite having already read a great deal about WWII, one of the things I especially liked about the Maus books was hearing how Spiegelman's father managed to survive. His father was gifted at quickly mastering skills and being able to talk his way out of tough situations. Those abilities helped him and his wife to survive the concentration camp.

Most reviews of Maus comment on Spiegelman's choice to draw the races differently: Jews are mice, the Germans are cats and other Poles are pigs. I liked the minimalist drawings because it kept the story moving and the focus was more on the words and the meanings.

I think this is a significant memoir of the Holocaust and would highly recommend it.
Profile Image for Will M..
304 reviews615 followers
June 3, 2015
This is one of those graphic novels that everyone is telling the world to read. Acclaimed as one of the best graphic novels out there. My take on it is that it was really enjoyable and informative, but not the best. While it was very enjoyable, I still had a few problems with it. Overhyped in my opinion, but still highly recommended for me.

I honestly have no problem with the plot. Straightforward and informative. I'm a huge history fan, and the topic of Nazis in general was nothing new for me. It's been a while since my last read of this certain part of history. This graphic novel was a good way to refresh my memory. It's still very unsettling that the Nazis were this abusive back then. The way they tortured the Jews and such was very inhumane. I know that somewhere in the world today, people are still being abused like this, if not worse. Such a shame, and quite unthinkable how some people could be this cruel.

The characters were not as amazing as I wanted them to be. Some weren't developed enough. I seem to have this problem with most of the graphic novels that I read. I'm not sure if it's the graphic novels itself, or the way the author describes them. The whole character thing is a huge problem for me to be honest, because i'm a reader who heavily depends on the characters for enjoyment. I like a well written set of characters. The plot thankfully made up for the not so great characters. Artie and Anja were really enjoyable, but the other ones felt a bit dull.

One more problem that I encountered would be the artwork. I'm very choosy when it comes to the artwork. I know this aimed to provide a historical feeling, but it didn't work that much for me. I didn't like the rough drawing and the way it was presented. It could've been done better. Not a huge problem, but still something that bugged me from time to time.

4/5 stars. It's a solid 4 for me. Hopefully the next volume would continue to be this good, or be even better. I'm going to rate the compilation of the two volumes separately after reviewing the second one. Great way to introduce history to aficionados and also beginners. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
4,010 reviews54 followers
March 23, 2016
If there was a Pulitzer Prize for the BEST ALREADY
winners of the Pulitzer .....Art Spieglman's books would be a very high contender.

Point is... The creation of Maus exceeds expectations... which you might have heard
through the grapevine.

Maus, Vol 1: "My Father Bleeds"....is painful, personal, brilliant ..,and needs to be experienced first hand...( as all his books do)....
Then we might have a discussion

still worse to come, is Vol 2. "My Trouble Begins"

Profile Image for Nandakishore Mridula.
1,243 reviews2,257 followers
September 16, 2015
I don't read much Holocaust Literature nowadays.

In my teens and twenties, I read everything I could get my hands on on the Third Reich and the Middle Ages, as I had an abnormal urge to seek out the darkness in human souls. I was repelled and at the same time, fascinated by it - like people drawn irresistibly towards gruesome road accidents.

As I matured, this urge to torture myself diluted, and I moved on towards more wholesome stuff. However, I decided I would make an exception with Maus because of one important reason - it is a comic, or to use the more accepted terminology nowadays, a graphic novel.

The comic is a seriously underutilised narrative format. Like the fairy tale and the animated movie, Disney has corrupted it and confined it to a corner where it can only babble and make baby talk. It is heartening to see it breaking out of that straitjacket and maturing - in books like The Complete Persepolis and the this one.


"The Jews are undoubtedly a race, but not human" - Adolf Hitler

Dehumanising the enemy is the first step towards eliminating them: which is what Hitler tried to do with Jews and nearly succeeded. In this book, Art Spiegelman tells us a story from that dark era - a very personal one, that of his father - yet distances us emotionally brilliantly by using Brechtian techniques. The Jews are portrayed as mice, Germans as cats, Poles as pigs and Americans as dogs.

The story is delivered brutally, pulling no punches. However, changing the characters into animals accomplishes two things - by taking away the individuality, we are forced to look at the big picture: and the race differences are emphasised so as to be insurmountable(a Jew and a Gentile are both human beings, but a mouse can never become a cat). So even when we are caught up in the story, the political subtext is never forgotten.

A brilliant, brilliant work.

BTW, a bigger review is up on my blog.
Profile Image for Sophia.
2,023 reviews187 followers
January 20, 2022
Actual rating 4.5 stars.
I am generally not a fan of WWII stories. All the ones I’ve read lean so much into depicting Hitler and his army.

This is not that kind of story. It’s about a man finding ways to survive in a world that wanted him dead.

I loved the personal moments between Art and his father. That balance of humour and relatability to the shock and tragedy helped me continue reading.

This is one of those stories I never thought I’d read but I’m glad I did.
It’s incredible to read about this tale of survival in this medium.
Profile Image for Juliet Rose.
Author 8 books348 followers
July 20, 2022
It's hard to review a book which covers such dark history and suffering. This is a unique way to bring this subject to light but no less painful than say Night or Schindler's List. The graphic novel style did help the subject matter be more digestible but I still found myself having to set it down and walk away to deal with the horrors being shared. Despite the comic style, the author did an amazing job in showing the humanity both in the cruelty but also in the hope. I feel the art lent to the story.

This is something we should never, ever let fade in our memory.
Profile Image for Ariel.
301 reviews64.2k followers
July 14, 2014
It just didn't do what I wanted.

I had high expectations, my friends, I had high expectations. That might not be fair, but there you go.

My biggest problem was the misused animals. The book is called Maus. The characters are mice and cats and pigs. BUT NONE OF THEM ACT LIKE MICE OR CATS OR PIGS. WHATS THE POINT? In conversation with my friend Barry* it came up that "It's just cats chasing mice. That's the extent of the metaphor." He disagrees, on the whole.. he actually quite enjoyed this (we're budding reading again, I never want to stop buddy reading with this boy), but regardless he saw my point of view. I feel that there was great potential to use the animal characteristics to do interesting and inventive things, but basically they're just humans that look like animals.

I have a few other issues: I don't like the way the son treats the father (that won't make sense unless you've read this, sorry), and I haven't really been able to feel emotionally attached to anything (apart, of course, from the normal sense of sadness that comes from thinking of the holocaust).

It's not terrible, by any means. The illustrations are interesting, the story is interesting, and I flew through it. I very much look forward to reading Volume II, but this just wasn't good enough.

*Barry: https://www.youtube.com/Bazpierce!
Profile Image for Arnie.
16 reviews41 followers
August 9, 2014
When I was a kid I read comic books (mostly Superman). The Maus books are the only graphic novels I've read and I consider them masterpieces (Mausterpieces?). Like Spiegelman's alter ego, I was a middle class child growing up in Queens (NYC), the son of Holocaust survivors and couldn't communicate with my father when I was growing up. He got it down perfectly. It was spot on and ranks among the best of Holocaust related literature.
Profile Image for Maxwell.
1,138 reviews8,154 followers
September 5, 2015
Re-read September 5, 2015: I think I absorbed a lot more of the story and its power the second time around. It's really wonderfully crafted, and I can't wait to finally read the second volume because this one ends sort of abruptly.

First read January 3-9, 2014
August 27, 2021

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I didn't intend for my first book of 2018 to be so depressing, but MAUS is such a creative, important book. In MAUS, Art Spiegelman uses the medium of graphic novel to tell the moving, and sometimes hair-raising story of his father, Vladek: a holocaust survivor from Poland.

Juxtaposed against scenes where a now middle-aged Art is chatting with his elderly father in his home in Queens are scenes of the gradual chokehold that that Nazis formed around what later became Nazi-controlled territories. Vladek Spiegelman married into wealth with his first wife, Anja, and their lives before the war were rather luxurious. Slowly that all dwindled as their predominately Jewish area became one of the ghettos, and they were forced to run and hide for many years, until at last, someone promising to smuggle them both into Hungary betrayed them to the Nazis, and they ended up at Auschwitz.

Even though this is told biography-style, MAUS reads as being a little surreal, because Art chose to draw all of the "people" in his book as animals: the Jews are mice, the Nazis are cats, the neutral Poles are pigs, and the Americans of the present day are dogs. It was a really interesting choice stylistically, and I'm not completely sure why he did it - maybe to remove the reader one step from the horrors contained within the comic? There's a scene in here, one of the modern parts, about what happened when Vladek found a comic strip he did about his mother's suicide, which is included as an excerpt. This comic, "Prisoner on Planet Hell" is done with real people, which adds an extra layer of surrealism: a mouse, writing his memoir as a human.

If you're interested in WWII history and enjoy those "literary" graphic-novels that are about more weighty topics than capes and superheroes, I really recommend MAUS. Vladek is such an interesting man, and his firsthand account of survival is just that: firsthand. Really exceptional read.

4 to 4.5 stars
Profile Image for Calista.
3,889 reviews31.2k followers
September 23, 2017
This is a powerful story. It doesn't seem like these horrors could be possible and yet they are. This is a black and white comic with mice as Jews and cats as Nazis. I can only hope that this history remains a reminder of why compassion toward all people is so very important. When we lose our compassion, we lose our humanity. It is also a reminder of the darkness people are capable of and the strength of the human spirit. This is not a fun story or a comforting story; it is a tough story about survival and after you do survive, what is life like then. I'm glad I read this story.
Profile Image for Tawfek Making Onions Cry.
2,668 reviews2,080 followers
April 23, 2023
Too personal to be true, but it is true...
It is awesome.
The art is fantastic.
Over all the story is so touching.
This comic book is a journey, i recommend to anyone who doesn't know anything about the holocaust.
Profile Image for Steven  Godin.
2,386 reviews2,259 followers
January 2, 2020
I admit, I've never been a fan of comics/graphic novels, and to my mind have only ever read two or three of them. I'd been thinking of reading this for some time, and now was the time to get on with it. Dealing with the harrowing wartime experiences of his father, Vladek, a Polish Jew and survivor of Auschwitz, and Spiegelman's troubled relationship with him, what we have here is a blend of biography, autobiography and memoir, cleverly told in the graphic novel format.
Not wanting to overly dramatize Vladek's story, Spiegelman presents it in a straightforward cartoon way, with Jews represented as mice, and Nazis as cats. This is a book meant for everyone, not just comic readers. The cartoon style and anthropomorphic characters allow the reader to approach otherwise horrific situations in a simple and direct way, without the use of realistically explicit images or melodrama, while still grabbing hold of the reader in a most power way.
He tells the story dispassionately and honestly without any knowing winks to comics-literate readers. Nor does Spiegelman glamorise his father as some kind of hero. Vladek comes across as irritating, manipulative, exasperating, and even bigoted. He is simply trying to tell an important story, by documenting his father's wartime experiences. I was surprised to find a little humour in there, something you wouldn't associate with the Holocaust, but it is in there, albeit wry and situational. Maus has the power to take your breath away, with its stunning visual style, and sombre reminder that while we can never forget the Holocaust, we may need new ways to always remember. Essential reading.
Profile Image for Paul Haspel.
543 reviews69 followers
February 25, 2023
Maus means “mouse” in German; and part of what gives this graphic novel of the Nazi Holocaust its unique power is the way in which cartoon artist Art Spiegelman utilizes the cat-and-mouse metaphor to describe the struggle of European Jews to stay alive while being hunted by the Nazis. Spiegelman draws from real life, and from his own family history, in conveying the events of Maus – and somehow, the stylized nature of this graphic novel, which depicts its Jewish characters as mice and its Nazi characters as cats, causes the horrors of the Holocaust to come through in an innovative and moving way.

Maus is A Survivor’s Tale, and the survivor referred to in that second element of the title is a real-life Holocaust survivor: Art Spiegelman’s father Vladek. Maus was published in two volumes, and this first volume has the subtitle My Father Bleeds History – a powerful reference not only to the cruelty and violence of the Holocaust, but also to the way in which the Holocaust haunts those who managed to survive it.

This graphic novel moves back and forth between two worlds. One is a 1970’s “present,” set in the New York City neighborhood of Rego Park, Queens; there, Art Spiegelman, in a series of visits to his ill and aging father Vladek, tries to persuade Vladek to recount his Holocaust experiences. The other is the 1930’s and 1940’s history of the Holocaust events that Vladek experienced and survived.

Within the context of Holocaust literature, what seems to give Maus its unique power, as mentioned above, is its use of the cat-and-mouse metaphor. The Jews, in Spiegelman’s work, are depicted as mice; the Nazis as cats; the non-Jewish people of Poland as pigs; and the Americans of modern New York as dogs. For the Nazi predators, the Jews are nothing but “prey” – and because they cannot hope to prevail through physical force, the “mice” must use their wits to try to survive.

As Maus begins, the reader at once gets a sense of a broken family with a traumatic history and a family dynamic characterized by emotional distance; Art Spiegelman writes that he and his father “weren’t that close” and adds that “My Mother’s suicide and his two heart attacks had taken their toll” (p. 11). Vladek Spiegelman, after the post-war suicide of his wife Anja, remarried, but his marriage to his second wife Mala is not a happy one. Against this backdrop of an unhappy family situation in a modern American setting, Vladek Spiegelman begins to recount his “survivor’s tale” of the Holocaust.

The early chapters of Maus I set forth Vladek’s early life in pre-war Poland, including his marriage to Anja, whose post-partum depression following the birth of their first child prompts the Spiegelmans to travel by train to a sanitarium in Czechoslovakia. In a small town on the way to the sanitarium, Vladek experiences a grim foretaste of what the future will bring: “It was the beginning of 1938 – before the war – hanging high in the center of town, it was a Nazi flag. Here was the first time I saw, with my own eyes, the swastika” (p. 32). Art Spiegelman makes this panel larger than the others – five mice look fearfully through the train window, with the Nazi swastika flag looming outside the window, like a grim black harbinger at the top and center of the panel – using the graphic-novel format skillfully to reinforce the ideas that he is conveying.

Vladek, as he tells his story to Art, is drafted into the Polish Army as the Second World War begins, and is taken prisoner as the Polish forces fall before the Nazi Wehrmacht. Seeing that the Jews are separated from, and treated much more harshly than, the Polish prisoners, Vladek learns quickly the strategies for survival – speak German to the Nazis, volunteer when opportunities for work are offered, stand in the second line rather than the first – and eventually he is released from his P.O.W. confinement, and is able to rejoin his family in Sosnowiec.

Once Vladek is released, however, his struggle to survive, and to ensure his family’s survival, continues on a new front. The Nazi measures against the Jewish population increase in intensity – all Jews are ordered into ghettos, and many Jews, such as the elderly, are taken away, never to be seen again. As Vladek recalls, “We didn’t yet know of Auschwitz – of the ovens – but we were anyway afraid” (p. 86).

Chapter 5, “Mouse Holes,” features an early attempt by Art Spiegelman to cope with the trauma of his mother’s suicide – an actual underground comics feature from 1973 called “Prisoner of the Hell Planet: A Case History,” in which he used stylized imagery and characters (albeit human beings rather than cats and mice) to convey the pain of learning that his mother had taken her own life. The black-bordered pages of this portion of the book -- similar to what one might see on a funeral notice -- emphasize how Art Spiegelman, like his father, is dealing with his own emotional pain and sense of bereavement; and the thin lines and sharp contours of this feature, in contrast with the thicker lines and more blurred contours of Maus, emphasize the difference in time between the periods of history being dramatized.

Returning to the main line of narrative of Maus I, Vladek and a number of his family survive a selection process at the Sosnowiec stadium – of 30,000 people there, about one-third are chosen for work, while the remainder are consigned to extermination. When orders come that all the Jews of Sosnowiec are to be sent to Auschwitz, some take their own lives; others build bunkers, below coal bins and above rooftops, in which to hide from the Nazis. These bunkers, set forth in great detail in larger panels, are some of the “mouse holes” in which Vladek and others attempt to hide from the Nazi genocide.

Precariously sheltered in the basement of the home of a Polish woman whose anti-Semitic husband does not know she is sheltering Jews, Vladek attempts to procure for himself and Anja an escape to Hungary, where things are said to be better than they are in Poland. Panels showing mice wearing pig masks convey the perilous process through which a Jewish person masquerades as a Pole in order to be able to circulate outdoors. But they are betrayed; and a large concluding panel shows them arriving at Auschwitz, where the gate bears that mocking inscription of Arbeit Macht Frei (“Work Makes Free”). As Vladek puts it, “We came here to the concentration camp Auschwitz. And we knew that from here we will not come out anymore…We knew the stories – that they will gas us and throw us in the ovens. This was 1944 – we knew everything. And here we were” (p. 157).

The reader knows, of course – for this is a framed tale – that Vladek and Anja will survive the Holocaust and the Second World War; and therefore the reader of Maus I is likely to want to go straight on to Maus II (with its subtitle And Here My Troubles Began) to learn how they survived. But there is one more shocking discovery to be made from this first volume of Maus.

Throughout the book, Art Spiegelman has been searching through his father’s house for his mother’s diaries, in which she recounted her Holocaust experiences; he feels that the content of the diaries will enrich his graphic novel, and the reader senses that he wants to reconnect with his beloved and lost mother as well. The ultimate fate of the diaries, and Art’s response when he learns of what happened, causes Maus I to close on a disturbing note in both its present-day and past-time narratives.

We live in a time when increasing percentages of people, here in the United States and around the world, either don’t know that the Holocaust happened, deny that the Holocaust occurred, or claim that reports about what happened during the Holocaust are somehow “exaggerated.” And Maus has recently become the target of book-banners; a Tennessee school board recently voted unanimously to remove the novel from its 8th-grade language arts curriculum, citing concerns about nudity and profanity. It is heartbreaking to reflect upon how the members of this school board have acted as if curse words, or images of naked people, are somehow more "obscene" than the genocide perpetrated by the Nazis against six million innocent people between 1939 and 1945.

In such times as these, a work like Maus – with its graphic-novel format that might reach those readers who would not be inclined to take up a more “conventional” work of Holocaust history or literature – becomes more vitally needed than ever. Maus is one of the most important graphic novels ever created.
Profile Image for Lark Benobi.
Author 1 book1,869 followers
June 6, 2023
What a masterpiece. I can't believe it took me so long to read this.
Profile Image for Owlseyes .
1,651 reviews267 followers
February 1, 2022

The story of a Jew's survival.

Jews depicted as mice and Germans as cats. A poignant story. Really good, the character Vladek (the survivor). Can you imagine him on a German prisoners camp, a freezing Autumn, birds falling from trees due to cold...and Vladek taking a shower at the river: to stay clean and warmy the day onward? Or his wife (a mice too) complaining about rats!?...

True facts underly the story.






Profile Image for Alicia Beale.
104 reviews13 followers
May 21, 2007
When I switched my major to English in my senior year, I had a lot of back classes to take, especially intro classes with freshmen and sophmores, though my last intro class was a night class with primarily older women, who worked full time jobs in Edison or the Amboys and a bushel of kids waiting at home. Basically, they were there to learn more about literature, sort of as a self-improvement class for the non-literary. The class was taught by a flame hair TA, who had the personality to match. Yet as time went by, those last descriptive sentences I wrote became complete crap. We became a class of studious literary scholars on par with any graduate program. Our TA took on a Robin Williams in Dead Poet's Society aura. Why, when did this happen? Well, we read Maus. It rocked all our socks. Besides our TA was a serious woman, not to mention awesome and intelligent. She used to write music reviews for the Village Voice when it was credible, and now she's working with Art Speigelman and has a sexy fellowship at Harvard. And me what do I have? Well, I have this book. I thank her for the introduction.
Profile Image for Doug.
1,996 reviews706 followers
February 19, 2022
I don't read many graphic novels - at most 2 or 3 per year, and don't really appreciate the format - I find it difficult to read and look at the pix at the same time - but HAD to tackle this to 'honor' its recent banning by the TN. school board, on the grounds their students MIGHT find it 'upsetting'; I mean, g-d forbid the killing of 6 million innocents should disturb their tiny little brains any! {https://hyperallergic.com/708067/tenn...}

In a way, the story follows a known, typical template - how many variations on the horrible events of the Holocaust and survivor aftermaths can there really be? And. much like his son (the cartoonist's doppelganger, Art), I found the character of the father Vladek to be irritating, with his Yoda-speak. But the story is certainly compelling - it is odd that it ends so abruptly, but on to part two.
Profile Image for Kruti.
113 reviews304 followers
April 15, 2013
Some books will leave a sour taste in your mouth. Some will uplift your spirits. Some will even touch your heart. And some…some have the power to rip your soul into tiny little pieces and leave nothing but a shell in its place.

Who knew a graphic novel could hold such power? But that’s exactly what happened.


Having finished Maus I: My Father Bleeds History, I feel like I just sparred against a two-tonne elephant with no means of escape. Each hit was worse than the last until I reached the end feeling numb.

In this novel, Spiegelman’s father recounts all his experience and near misses with death during Hitler’s reign. He talks about his life before the war; his life as a successful businessman; how he found his wife and the birth of their son.

He then talks about the start of war and being recruited to fight on the front line. He talks about what he had to endure not only as war prisoner but a Jewish war prisoner. He manages to escape one nightmare only to be thrust back into another one. He witnesses/hears about the deaths of many of his friends and relatives until the cliffhanger at the end when he finally arrives at Auschwitz concentration camp.

I’ve studied history, particularly German history throughout my childhood. I’ve learnt key dates, facts and figures but that’s all it is – facts and figures. Hitler became the leader of the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei in 1921 and chancellor in 1933. After this time, Germany began to transform from a representative democracy under the Weimar Republic to a single-party dictatorship under the rule of Hitler. Then came the onslaught of his anti-semitic policies. Studying this period brought a sour taste in my mouth but reading this novel made everything more real. I felt like I was right there; in constant fear of what might happen if the Gestapo found me and not knowing if I would survive the next hour let alone the next day. The author does a brilliant job depicting each of these events. The Jews are illustrated as rats, the Poles as pigs – only willing to risk their lives to save the Jews if money was involved and the Germans as cats.

This novel is truly great at depicting the horrific events that happened during the Holocaust but it’s not the only reason I would recommend it. This novel is also about a broken relationship between a father and son, and how they try to reconnect together after many years. It also shows the long-term effects a war can have on a person who endured so much in their life. It really puts things into perspective. The next time someone tells you how hard their life is. Tell them it could be worse.

This is completely different but this story also hit home a little. Although what my father’s family went through is in no way proportional to what Spiegelman’s father went through, I can’t help but be saddened by the atrocities peppered throughout our history. What my father’s family went through happened in the 1970s, when the Ugandan President decided to have an ethnic cleansing of all Indians from Uganda. My father and all his siblings were born and brought up there. My grandfather ran a large successful family business there and having listened to my father’s story many times, he talked about how they were forced out of their businesses and homes. Everything they owned was reallocated to Ugandan nationals. He talked about how my uncle tried to save our belongings but was beaten to a pulp by the police. My dad talked about how they left with only the clothes they were wearing and one or two items. Years of hard work went down the drain. They couldn’t even access any of the savings in banks. A place they called home vanished within seconds. My dad’s family moved back to India but things just weren’t the same, especially for my uncle. He became mentally unstable and after only a few days he left. To this day, we don’t know where he is and whether he’s alive or not.

Although what happened in Germany is not the same as this, I couldn’t help but think of my own father’s experience. Imagine being forced out of your homes, businesses within seconds and being beaten. Imagine a nation targeting you and only you for what you are. It’s just despicable and makes me not want to live on this planet anymore. What gives someone a right to treat you inferior to them?

Review of Maus II: And Here My Troubles Began
Profile Image for Kelli.
851 reviews395 followers
January 16, 2016
Oh my! This book makes me want to read every interview with the author that I can find. One article I read credits this book (and two others) with changing the public's perception of comics and potentially starting the use of the term "graphic novel." I have read only one other graphic novel (the beautiful and brilliant Can't We Talk about Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast) so I am tremendously under-qualified to review this. I'm not sure what I expected when I picked this up but what I got was a deeply moving story of one man's Holocaust experience that was masterfully written and drawn by his son. Deceptively simplistic, the drawings allow the reader to be in the story...to see life as it was and then the changing conditions, the confusion, the horror, the bunkers. As father and son meet and talk, the drawings seamlessly transition from present day into the past throughout the book, giving a sense that those memories were always near to and part of him. I found it amazing how a well-placed line or dash on the face of a mouse could convey age, joy, sorrow, defeat. The drawings were incredible. I'm certain there are treasures to be found with each reading of this incredible tale.

More than a story of atrocity and survival, this story reveals much about the author's relationship with his dad. An old-fashioned man whose entire history is heartbreaking and his son are divided by cultural and generational differences, estrangement, and misunderstanding of one another, yet they share the devastating loss of Anja and the need to understand her suicide. The author's father, Vladek, is presented in a way that seems unquestionably authentic with character traits both endearing and frustrating. Vladek's syntax and word choices make it so the reader can actually hear his accent, feel his escalating anger at times, understand the disconnect between father and son. What a touching tribute to his father that Art Spiegelman has created in this (presumably) honest portrayal. I cannot begin to imagine the atrocities the elder Spiegelman had endured, nor do I imagine it was easy to live with this man. I fell in love with page 133, on which Vladek tells Artie he will be famous like Walt Disney. There is so much conveyed in those few frames.

I was a junior in high school when this book was published. We were required to read Night by Elie Wiesel (which I re-read and reviewed recently) but up until now, I had not heard of Maus. This was recommended to me by our librarian. When I saw the cover I honestly thought she had lost her mind. I stand humbly corrected. I am running to get the next book, which is the conclusion. I cannot effectively put into words how ingenious this book is.
5 stars.
Profile Image for Danuta.
Author 3 books14 followers
February 5, 2012
I have a real, real problem with this book. It's a powerful piece, and tells the story of one family's experiences of the Holocaust in grim and gripping detail. it's also an amazing exploration of the relationship between a father and son. I'd love to give it 5 stars. And yet... I couldn't give a decent rating to a book that depicted black people, Muslims or gays as pigs, and I can't give a good rating to a book that depicts Poles as pigs. The book is not the history of the Polish people during the occupation, fair enough, but Spiegleman draws on stereotypes and shows a great deal of ignorance of events in Poland, Belarus and Ukraine during the years of the Nazi occupation. He seems to prefer the Nazis to the Poles. The Nazis are evil but elegant, the Poles are just brute animals. Apparently, when Spieglaman was challenged about the way he depicts Poles in this book, he said 'Stop squealing.' I haven't a source for this quote, and I hope it is wrong. Powerful? Yes. Racist? Yes.
Profile Image for Cherisa B.
502 reviews40 followers
September 15, 2022
I can only plagiarize what Jules Feiffer wrote, included as an encomium on the cover of my copy:

A remarkable work, awesome in its conception and execution… at one and the same time a novel, a documentary, a memoir, and a comic book. Brilliant, just brilliant.

Truly. Profoundly chilling and incredibly moving. This tragedy of human history must never be forgotten, and works that mark it should be made across all creative disciplines. So appreciative that this book exists.

I highly recommend this work.
Profile Image for Rowena.
500 reviews2,474 followers
February 9, 2013
So so sad. What a truly shameful part of our history the Holocaust was. To think that a group of people would be treated so abysmally for no good reason just hurts my heart.

Despite the fact that this was a graphic novel that had the characters portrayed as mice (Jews), pigs(Poles) and cats (Germans), it did not lessen the disgust I had against the Nazi system that condoned, encouraged and justified this mistreatment of Jewish people; Jews were given curfews, forced to wear armbands, forced to use ration coupons etc. I was truly sickened by it all.

This graphic novel is biographical; Spiegelman's father recounted his personal experiences as a Polish Jew during WW2 to him. It's difficult to imagine that there are many similarly horrific stories out there.
Profile Image for Daniel Chaikin.
594 reviews56 followers
February 28, 2022
original read in June 1999.

Re-read Dec 2-6, 2014, for a book club, when I wrote: This is too hard to review, but it's a classic in serious graphic novels, and masterpiece on the Holocaust and just on humanity in general. I was surprised how much had forgotten.

I read it again this month, Feb 2022, with a group on LibraryThing in response to the recent school district banning. It's a classic, and for me it stands as _the_ classic graphic novel. It's not only a look at the holocaust, an attempt by a child of a survivor to understand what his parents went through, but also it's the book that first enlightened me to what this format can offer. A revisit, but I had forgotten so much, and I was surprised, yet again, how powerful this is. Yet again, I closed this, only volume 1 here, thinking "wow".

And yet again I missed tons of artistic details like the swastika Poland landscape here after Vladek and Anja‘s escape the ghetto and then have no where to hide.

A book everyone should read.


6. Maus I : A Survivors Tale: My Father Bleeds History by Art Spiegelman
published: 1986
format: 160-page graphic novel
acquired: 1999 read: Feb 2-10 time reading: 2:51, 1.1 mpp
rating: 5
genre/style: graphic novel Holocaust memoir/biography theme LT group read
locations: Poland and Queens, New York
about the author: An American cartoonist. The son of Jewish Holocaust survivors, he was born in Sweden in 1948, immigrated to the US in 1951 and settled in Rego Park, Queens, New York.
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