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on 19 December 1998
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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on 10 November 1998
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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on 22 May 1998
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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on 10 January 1999
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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on 4 January 2000
Without a doubt one of the most important pieces of holocaust literature ever conceived. Paralells even some of Primo Levi's work and is equally hard hitting. I can advise you to do only 2 things in this review:
1. Disregard any infantile reviews such as that written by the Bay Ridge reviewer ("Art Spiegelman is a jerk"). 2. Buy the book immediatley. From historical and literary points of view, it is a necesarry purchase.
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on 20 December 1998
What an incredible book! The honesty and intimacy leap off the pages. It manages to entertain-there's quite a bit of humor- while dealing with perhaps the darkest times in our century.
It is not just a story of the holocaust, but the story of a father and a son. It is the story of how the artist, the son of a survivor, mananges to deal with the legacy of his father's suffering...and heroism; How he reconciles his feelings of love and guilt and admiration with feelings of anger and frustration and despair that the same man, his father, evokes in him.
WARNING: Because the Polish people have never, to my knowledge, done any self-examination (unlike the Germans and now other nations), this book may offend some people of Polish descent. Since this true history tells the story of a Polish Jew, and since all the death camps were in Poland, this book therefore inadvertantly shows the pernicious anti-semitism and murderous participation of the Polish people (as individuals-not as a nation) in the persecution of the Jews.
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on 12 March 1999
I first found this book in 9th grade and the teacher told me it's college matierial and too advanced. I sat down with it and couldn't put it down. I especially loved the whole comic book look of it, it made it more interesting. I was never really interested in tht Holocaust, but when I read this book, it took the whole thing from a different perspective, and that's what caught my eye. This book is boss, everyone should read it!!!
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on 21 December 1997
I first read this book early this year(1997) and I was very impressed by it. I must have read it about five times. Up until then, I don't think I had fully understood the Holocaust, but these books really opened my eyes. I'm only twelve, so this was a powerful experience on me. I have nothing but good things to say about it, and I hope mister Spielgman keeps up the good work!
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on 27 April 1999
This is an original look at the Holocaust, by making animals represent the different cultures during World War 2. The Jewish people are mice, the Germans are cats, the Polish are pigs and Americans are dogs.By the illustrations, this also gives you a more realistic look into the death camps. It makes you want to learn more about the Holocaust and World War 2.
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on 3 April 2002
Notwithstanding being a graphic novel, Maus is a true literary masterpiece. It is very entertaining, gripping, the kind of book that keeps you up late at night not wanting to put it down. It brings the events surrounding the holocaust to life like no other book could. The portrayal of Jewish life in Poland before and as the holocaust started is particularly well done. The book is also an excellent psychological study of the effects of the holocaust on survivors and their families and loved ones. This is an absolute must read book for anyone interested in literature or history.
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