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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book represents many other stories
I worked at the Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies as a student at Yale University. I reviewed many testimonies, and was at one point assigned a number of videos about survivors from Sosnowiec, Poland, where much of _Maus_ takes place. I can only say of the books that they reproduce both typical experiences of those survivors and the tone of their...
Published on 10 Nov 1998

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Good book Bad print
I know the book extremely well - one that everyone should have in their library, However, I bought it as a birthday present for a friend and was embarrassed because the quality of the print was so bad you could hardly see the cartoon leave alone read the text. An overrun of black ink. As the birthday was so soon after delivery it was too late to return the book, Pity as...
Published 19 months ago by Lotman


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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book represents many other stories, 10 Nov 1998
By A Customer
I worked at the Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies as a student at Yale University. I reviewed many testimonies, and was at one point assigned a number of videos about survivors from Sosnowiec, Poland, where much of _Maus_ takes place. I can only say of the books that they reproduce both typical experiences of those survivors and the tone of their stories in an extremely effective, real and moving way. The books are not at all implausible, as has been suggested in other reviews at this site; surviving the Holocaust required that level of ingenuity and courage, as I witnessed through many similar personal stories. If you are not able to learn about the Holocaust from someone who experienced it, these books are a very artistic and brave attempt to convey that knowledge. Spiegelman has given an authentic voice to the many, many survivors whose stories would otherwise languish on the shelves of archives around the world.
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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Maus, 10 April 2007
This review is from: The Complete MAUS (Paperback)
There is a huge amount of holocaust literature available, lots of it well written and moving but this graphic novel packs quite a punch and is all the more engrossing because of its cartoon form.

I found it just as affecting as Primo Levi's books which is high praise indeed. I have lent this to family who, like me, found it gut wrenching but rewarding. And none of us read comics or graphic novels ever. If you don't either, make this the exception. Should be essential reading.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Haunting, 2 Nov 2009
By 
M. K. Burton - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Complete MAUS (Paperback)
This haunting graphic novel depicts the Holocaust through the eyes of Art's father, a Polish Jew called Vladek who suffered greatly but survived the concentration camps. Starting with the meeting of his father and his mother, The Complete Maus carries their story through to the end of the horrors, juxtaposed with Art's present-day life and struggle to appease his elderly father while recording his history before it's too late. By using animals to represent groups of people (Nazis are cats, Jews are mice, French are frogs, and so on), the author strengthens his allegory and makes this book into an unforgettable and horrifying piece of art.

I hesistated for a few weeks before writing this review. Another review is surely excessive because I've seen tons out there. Still, my thoughts wanted a place, and when it comes down to it, this graphic novel hasn't left me alone yet.

Perhaps what's most striking about this particular tale is that Vladek is an ordinary old man. In some way, Holocaust survivors are expected to be supernaturally brave, intelligent, and in essence heroes. They are that, but they are also normal people thrust into the worst situation imaginable and forced to cope or die or both. Vladek has undoubtedly been shaped by his experience but not in the best ways. He hoards food, he hoards money, because his world is still uncertain and he knows what deprivation is like. This irritates everyone around him but the saddest part is that he is so normal. It brings home to us the fact that ordinary people were suffered and died for no reason. Vladek is startlingly like my grandpa and that makes the real story even more horrifying than it would have been without the frame. It reminds us how lucky we are, as does Art's constant struggle with his guilt over his role in his father's life.

As I'm sure many others have, I have heard a lot of Holocaust stories over my lifetime. I was taught about it in school, given books about it, and chose on my own to read about it on numerous occasions. That doesn't lessen the impact of this one. Since this one is set in Poland, and there is a lot of running around and hiding before Vladek and Anya are caught, I felt it was a little different than others. The fact that it's a graphic novel also made a difference. Even in cartoon form, seeing the wasted bodies of the mice is upsetting. The few real pictures added just make a huge impact, reminding us that these were real people.

Overall, this graphic novel is carefully crafted and deeply moving. I don't want to say something so horrifying is "good", because that is impossible. Rather, its power and stunning capacity to portray humanity and inhumanity through selected text and drawings makes it worth noting, remembering, and reading.
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46 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Surviving the survivors, 22 May 1998
By A Customer
If one sign of a great work is that it breeds heated discussions -- Maus and Maus II certainly qualify. (By the way, everyone, the Nazi's were CATS!). Most of the objections I read from other reviewers seem to stem from the fact that this powerful, moving, and disturbing book does not promulgate their particular political agenda. Those of you who take offense should remember that this book is not a political history, but a biography. Even then, we should also note that the primary focus of this work is not the actual atrocities of the Holocaust, but in what came next. Art Spiegleman created this because he was trying to understand how his mother could survive all the horrors of a concentration camp, only to kill herself years later. In the wake of her suicide, Maus reveals itself to be a tale of how Spiegleman survived his mother's act of self-destruction, and in so doing, reveals much about all humans everywhere. (Also, let's never forget one thing, folks: A Comic Book won a Pulitzer Prize!)
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Possibly the best book on the holocaust and a brilliant work, 19 Dec 1998
By A Customer
MAUS is an extraordinary book. The author-unsparing of himself and his father, the survivor-presents an honest, unsentimental, extremely human account of one man's experience (the author's father) of the holocaust and the effects the experience had on his post-war life, his family, and especially on his son, the author and artist who created this masterpiece. The comic book format allows the author to express the unexpressible.
The book contains humor, tragedy and paradox. It allows the reader to enter into the experience in an intimate way. By going back and forth from the present to the past, we experience the sharp contrast between the incredible freedom and comfort of our modern western lives and the horrific mind-numbing nightmare that became the daily experience of millions of people so very few years ago.(We also see how that "nightmare" continues to pervade the present life of the man who has lived through it.)
MAUS is one man's story. It is clear that Mr. Spiegelman has no personal animosity towards any people or nation. His most difficult relationship, and this adds such a fascinating and human twist to the tale, was with his father!
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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A work for our time, 15 Nov 2003
This review is from: The Complete MAUS (Paperback)
On first inspection, a comic strip depicting the suffering of the Holocaust through the use of 'cat' and 'mice' figures seems insupportable, almost laughable. However, the moment you begin to read the Maus collection, you are drawn into an incredible world, the world of the Holocaust, and become part of it. The mice become as real to the reader as their own family, the Nazi cats as terrifying as any living nightmare. Through the struggle to survivial of the Speigelman family, both during and after the Holocaust, the reader gats a real sense of what it is to have experienced such events, whether literally, or as a second-generation survivor. An amazing both, which is both hugely entertaining and surprising.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant work, and NOT defamatory to "Poles", 10 Jan 1999
By A Customer
MAUS is, to be sure, a brilliant work. My parents survived the Holocaust, read Maus, and affirm that it captures well the times, although every individual experienced the Holocaust in their own way due to their own unique circumstances. One reviewer asserts, essentially, that Maus defames Poles. This is a simplistic, defensive position: Maus simply reports the reality experienced by one family, and their reality is that Poles were complicit in the extermination of jews. My own family witnessed extreme (murderous) Polish antisemitism and collaboration with the Nazis in the destruction of the Jews. The fact that Germans and Poles struggles with each other -- indeed the Germans wanted to enslave the Poles -- is irrelevant to the fact that both hated Jews due to antisemitism, which has its roots in medieval Catholic church doctrine that the "Jews killed Christ." (A Polish housekeeper we had as a child was surprised that I did not have horns, as she thought all Jews had!) To say that 3,000,000 Poles helped Jews is absurd -- get real! And, Poles who in fact have been proven to have saved Jews have been honored by Israel at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial (like Oscar Schindler, etc.) There were good Poles, bad Poles, and indifferent Poles, but no serious scholar disputes ingrained Polish antisemitism and widespread collaboration with the Nazis against Jews.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Searing honesty, 31 Mar 2008
By 
Rusty (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Complete MAUS (Paperback)
"Maus" is an amazing accomplishment and a rightly revered classic. What I admire most about its narrative is its honesty. If Spielberg ever adapted this book as a film, it would become a simplistic, black-and-white affair: one-dimensional Nazi aggressors stamping on one-dimensional Jewish victims. Instead, Spiegelman has opted to respect our intelligence and throw the doors wide open on this repellent slice of human history. He pulls no punches and tells his father's story with abject truth - even when sometimes portraying the Jewish community in a less than flattering light.

In the unflinching pages of "Maus", Jews betray Jews. Jews steal from Jews. Jews discriminate against non-Jews. I sat up with a shock when Vladek, the tale's central holocaust survivor, displays unbelievable racism towards a black man. Having lived through unspeakable persecution, he speaks of African-Americans in the same way that a Nazi would speak of a Jew. Also, in his old age, Vladek has come to resemble the Nazi stereotype of the "miserly old Jew". This adds incredible power and depth to this already complex story, throwing up countless questions on morality, racial identity and the grey area between good and evil.

It is a staggeringly brave book and its courage has sealed its success. I only wish more artists out would get some guts and show the world some work that really matters.
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68 of 76 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of those books everyone should read..., 25 July 2004
By 
Jason Parkes "We're all Frankies'" (Worcester, UK) - See all my reviews
(No. 1 Hall OF FAME REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Complete MAUS (Paperback)
The world of comics/graphic novels is one relatively unfamiliar to me- I don't know why, as those that I have read I have loved, e.g. From Hell, Ghost World, and this collection of Art Spiegelman's Maus-works from the 70s to the 90s (the chapters were published seperately & differently between 1980 and 1991 and the 'cut-in' story Prisoner of the Hell Planet originates from Short Order Comix in 1973). I never usually get round to the 'graphic novel' section in bookshops- I tend to plump for fiction and usually find a few titles there, pay for them and leave. So, I was pretty much oblivious to The Complete Maus until a recent BBC4 programme pitched it against Schindler's Ark/List. I loathe the way the BBC has to turn everything into a competition (I thought Schindler's Ark was a great book!), but appreciated the way that The Complete Maus, written in a format people seem to look down upon, was presented as another way in which the horrors of the Jewish Holocaust (Shoah) were dealt with (perhaps the BBC should have made a documentary or series on ways in which culture has represented the Nazi Horrors of the 20th Century?). But no matter, I'd logged the name in my head and a piece on Spiegelman and 9-11 recently made me go out and look for it...
And I feel cheated that I didn't discover this book earlier, as I could have read it several times more if I'd found it a few years earlier. Spiegelman takes his family's personal history- his mother's suicide, his father's unhappy remarriage, his family's European origin, and above all the experience of the Nazi Holocaust and places it in the comic-form (which even Vladek looks down upon here, until he reads Prisoner of the Hell Planet). As a book relating to the Holocaust, it is extremely personal and you are reminded that this is just one man's memories of such horrors for the most part (though the book has a complex narrative frame, a vast array of supporting characters and stories, coming with all the complexity of any great American novel of the 20th Century). The 'present tense' of each chapter comes from conversations between Art and Vladek, often with Art's wife Francoise and Vladek's second wife Mala. There are both health and relationship problems between the characters in the now- which is as riveting as the recollections of Vladek. It ought to be added now that Spiegelman, perhaps nodding towards Orwell's Animal Farm, decides to render his characters in animal-form. Thus the Jews are represented as mice, the Germans as cats, the Poles as Pigs, the Americans as dogs, and the Swedes as deer. This makes it ideal for anyone to understand, a universality is implied- though the book is so captivating that I forgot about this pretty much instantly. A captivating tale, brilliant illustrations and a compulsive structure had me reading on and on...though I tried not to go too fast (& felt strange at enjoying a tale of such horrors...).
But like the greatest works, there is much here to enjoy- I'm not sure that there's a better primer in the Jewish experience of the Holocaust (well, there is, Primo Levi's If This is a Man/The Truce, but I'm not being patronising here, but that book may not appeal to teens/younger readers who really should be learning this history- The Complete Maus like The Diary of Anne Frank could very well be a conduit to key texts on this period, such as The Third Reich: The History, Ian Kershaw's books on Hitler, or Martin Amis' Time's Arrow). The episodic nature of The Complete Maus reminded me of two favourite books, again by Primo Levi- Moments of Reprieve and The Periodic Table. The early sections detailing Vladek's life as a suitor and factory-owner in 30s Europe reminded me of Levi's recollections in The Periodic Table of life before the WWII horror, while the parts told of life in Auschwitz-Birkenau recalled Moments of Reprieve's experiences (the lack of food, the kapo's, the selections, etc).
The Complete Maus quite rightfully has won many awards, including the Pulitzer and proved that the unsayable/unexpressable can be said. Many people had problems with Spielberg's Schindler's List (a film with flaws, but well meaning), but Spiegelman plays the right-card when he deals with the Shoah from the perspective of his father. Spiegelman even leaves in scenes of 'Art' debating whether he can write about the Holocaust and puts in references to his father's racial views on African-Americans and an allusion to the state of Israel (in occupied Palestine). The Complete Maus is a complex work that I've only read once and know will reveal more with the next reading...and the next...and the next...
The Complete Maus is one of those books that everyone should read and is a work that rightfully takes its place alongside the greatest works relating to the Jewish Holocaust, e.g. If This is a Man/The Truce, Schindler's Ark, The Pianist, Night & Fog, Shoah, The Sorrow & the Pity, Ashes & Diamonds, Holocaust, The Moon is Down, The Diary of Anne Frank, The Nazis: A Warning from History, The World at War, The White Hotel etc.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply astonishing, 23 Oct 2009
By 
Chris Widgery (London) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Complete MAUS (Paperback)
This is just unbelievable. I don't normally read comics (I think I've read five now: Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth, Watchmen, Batman: Dark Knight Returns, this and I'm sure there was something else), but regardless of whether you do or not, I defy you not to be blown away by this.

The story takes place on two threads - Speigelman talking to his elderly father about his life and experiences during the war, and those experiences. Spigelman sr married in Poland before the war, but was caught by the Nazis and sent to Auschwitz. His story of this period is told simply, without histrionics or fireworks and it is utterly terrifying. The simple, but genuis idea of using animals to portray nationalities works like a dream (mice for Jews, pigs for Poles, cats for Germans, dogs for Americans). We share teh horror and the confusion and also focus in on Speigelman sr's struggle to survive, and to keep some kind of contact with his wife.

In the modern America, the old Speigalman sr is not idealised. He is bad tempered, infuriating, racist and unpleasant. As, to be honest is Speigalman Jr. But the whole thing feels utterly, utterly authentic; totally real.

It just wouldn't work as well as a book - it needs to be a comic book.

Read it
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The Complete MAUS
The Complete MAUS by Art Spiegelman (Paperback - 2 Oct 2003)
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