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Customer reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
The Complete MAUS
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on 23 September 2017
Having read a fair bit on the Holocaust and it's aftermath, I was sceptical how well this book would grip me, however the clever way in which the author not only tells the story of the holocaust as narrative on genocide that too often has, because of it's sheer scope and the numbers, feel completely out of comprehension to later generations, feel all to real and personal to the reader. The story is told through the author's interactions with his father. The highlighting of his frustrations with an elderly person who, like many survivors, did not come out of the experience whole. The clever use of animals to portray nationalities and the subtle blend of personal recollections in the wider historical context, as well as the horrors that took place once the war was over are given suitable portrayal in the frames they occupy. The side stories give so much depth to the individuals involved, not least the author and his father, and prove that in this terrible situation there are villains amongst the victims as there are amongst the perpetrators. Overall a fine piece of work that deserves every accolade it gets.
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on 3 October 2016
This is quite possibly the most interesting and compelling book l have read in years. The graphic novel style narrative adds to the atmosphere and effectiveness of communication to the audience, who, even if totally ignorant of the events of WW2 would find themselves empathising with the characters and wondering to themselves, how on earth anyone ever survived. Spiegelman tells his father's story of survival in a Nazi concentration camp and how the experience has affected his personality and lifestyle. It is interesting to get to know the characters, especially Vladek and, once aware of his experiences, one cannot help but empathise with humourous understanding when he dries out his tea bag, for example from breakfast so he can use it again later. Vladek is a real character and l would have loved to have met him. What a fighter, and his sheer determination to live is amazing after all he suffered and went though. I do, however find his son's (the author) seeming lack of empathy and impatience with his father, displayed throughout the narrative very strange. However one can only make presumptions about their relationship and how this was affected as a result of Vladek's wartime and near death experiences.
This book is a must read and a book which l will treasure. Wonderful masterpiece.
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I really hoped I'd be giving this five stars,based on other reviews and following in interview with the author I heard on Radio Four.

There is much to admire in this book, but ultimately I didn't find it as involving as I'd expected, hence the four stars.

This is a book more for the author to expel his own demons than it is for the reader, but it tells a good story very well, and makes good use of the medium.

A critic suggected that Spiegelman can't draw, but unless DaVinci has an e-mail account wherever he is, then few are able to criticise the drawings, which are, I think, marvellous. The harsh black and white drawings elevate the stoy and ensure it jars the reader repeatedly, not letting go.

It's interesting that perhaps the most emotionally involving part of the book for me is the effect his experiences had on Spiegelman's father post-war, something we don't get exposed to so often, and in itself making the book important.

The caricatures of different races by means of animals must be difficult if your race is represented, but it is at the very least a way of ensuring we know who's who in a medium where it would often be less than obvious otherwise, and a number of the caricatures have historical or folk reference.

Everyone knows- or thinks they know- the story of the holocaust, but this did open up a few corners I wasn't previously aware of.

One could link this to Animal Farm, in making a complex story accessible, but I don't think that's entirely fair, as Spiegelman covers the story only factually, and the animal characters are there for very different reasons than in Animal Farm, where the characteristics aim to be functional and social more than racial. On top of that, I read Animal Farm to my children when they were very young, but I wouldn't necessarily offer them this; there are better introductions to the horror.

At the end, this is a fine work, skilfully executed; and highly recommended.
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on 16 February 2017
This is such an important book. I'm so grateful to Art Spiegelman for creating it. It's a story that really needs telling, and re-telling; first-hand accounts are crucial. I needed to brace myself before I started it, but found it a compelling read, and so intensely moving, on many levels. The author chose an incredibly original and effective way to relate his father's story. Apart from the harrowing nature of the subject, the author's relationship with his father is also related with raw honesty. It left me feeling filled with compassion, and humbled when I think of the strength needed to survive the Holocaust. It's an incredible reading experience, that will probably stay with me always. I expect to return to it many times. I am so very glad to have found this book.
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on 18 April 2016
Amazing ! A graphic novel that totally absorbs you. You quickly forget that the main characters are depicted as animals and get wrapped up in the story. This book has been passed around most of my family who all thought it was superb. Don't be put off by the fact it's a graphic novel - it's a true story with a very harrowing content. Tip - buy the collected edition so that you get volumes one and two combined.
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on 13 February 2016
So so poignant; absolutely incredible. The drawings are so graphic and add so much to the telling of this story, highlighting the inhumanity of it all. So sad to think this is a story about ONE man's experience in the holocaust and death camps - yet there are millions more untold stories that have affected so many lives. And this is just a tiny insight into the holocaust through one man's story. Brilliant, everyone must read.
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on 31 March 2008
"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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on 24 February 2010
I don't read comic books but I was attracted to this by the reviews and the unique approach to the subject matter.

It is an awful, horrible book that fully brings home the impact of the Holocaust through the use of the Cats as the Germans and the Mice as the Jews....whilst that may sound disrespectful and distasteful for the gravity of the subject, somehow, it utterly works.

The comic style adds a childlike stance to the story, (whilst it is not a childs story) and it somehow clearly exposes the cruelty espoused by the Germans for what it was - an utterly unfair and almost childish fascination with blaming the Jews for their own failings. This impacted me like almost no other book before and since...perhaps it is the fact it is presented like a comic that grips you easily and then hammers home like a sucker punch to the gut with the awful subject matter.

An all-time masterpiece, in every sense. Disturbing but absolutely captivating, read it.
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on 17 March 2012
Maus is, in my opinion, one of the most important texts written about the hollocaust. This harrowing tale has been superbly drawn and gives the reader a real sense of the fear and basic survival instinct instilled in the victims.

Spigelman's use of animals is terrific. To say it softens the blow or impact is unfair; but if the characters were drawn as humans it would be far too much to take. Maus is not for the faint hearted. It is a graphic and gritty portrayal of one of the most horrific chapters of world history.

The story is a real journey, charting the early 1930s through to the end of the war. This is a monumental and epic text which like the subject matter- should not be ignored.
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on 9 June 2016
First of all, I was really impressed with the quality of the book with it being a paperback. I thought it would be heavy and flimsy, making it a bit difficult to hold to read, BUT! It's a really nice thick cover and not as heavy as I thought it would be, which means I'm not ripping the pages or bending the spine too much. After first impressions of appearance, getting into the story of MAUS is really easy. Obviously, the Holocaust can be a delicate subject, but Spiegelman tells his father's story so honestly and his depictions of the characters make it easy for the reader to engage with the book. I seriously recommend MAUS to anyone, a fantastically honest story.
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