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

by Art Spiegelman

Book, 1986

Barcode

123460135

Call number

B HOL SPI

Collections

Publication

New York : Pantheon Books, c1986.

Description

Maus is a haunting tale within a tale. Vladek's harrowing story of survival is woven into the author's account of his tortured relationship with his aging father. Against the backdrop of guilt brought by survival, they stage a normal life of small arguments and unhappy visits.

Media reviews

Making a Holocaust comic book with Jews as mice and Germans as cats would probably strike most people as flippant, if not appalling. ''Maus: A Survivor's Tale'' is the opposite of flippant and appalling. To express yourself as an artist, you must find a form that leaves you in control but doesn't
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leave you by yourself. That's how ''Maus'' looks to me - a way Mr. Spiegelman found of making art.
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User reviews

LibraryThing member lit_chick
“Part I of Maus takes Spiegelman’s parents to the gates of Auschwitz, and him to the edges 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.” (Front Flap)

Cartoonist Art Spiegelman knocks
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it out of the park in his Pulitzer Prize winning graphic novel, Maus: a biographical sketch of his father, Vladek Spiegelman, a Jewish survival of Hitler’s Europe. Part I of Maus is aptly titled “My Father Bleeds History.” Moving seamlessly back and forth between New York and Poland, Spiegelman simultaneously tells two stories: the first is his parents’ survival of Nazi Europe, “a harrowing tale of countless brushes with death, improbable escapes, and the terror of confinement and betrayal.” The second story is that of Art’s relationship with his aging father – a relationship which proves to be almost impossible as they try to relate to one another in passing visits against a backdrop of history too terrifying to be placated and too huge to be ignored. Ultimately, Art’s story is the tale of two survivors: the elder of whom survived the Halocaust, and the younger of whom survived the survivor.

Why I read this now: Maus is one of several novel choices offered in a new senior secondary English course I am teaching. It is also my first graphic novel; and while I admit I was skeptical of the genre, Spiegelman has certainly set me straight. Finally, I was curious how the author would present such a grave topic as the Halocaust in cartoon form; and curious as to whether the presentation would appeal to a YA audience.

Recommended: very highly! I think what Spiegelman has achieved in Maus is nothing short of remarkable! Fans of the graphic novel genre will appreciate Spiegelman’s artistic and novelistic endeavours, and his ingenious presentation of Nazis and Jews as cats and mice. Readers interested in WWII and the Halocaust, as well as readers looking to expand their repertoire will also do well to explore Maus.
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LibraryThing member SqueakyChu
I finally got around to reading this book. It left a very deep impression on me. I, as did Art Spiegelman, lost my maternal grandparents in Auschwitz, Poland.

This was an amazing read. I think it was positively brilliant of the author/illustrator to use the graphic novel as the genre in which to
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present his father's story.

Readers of comics are often those who choose to enter a world of fantasy. Bringing the story of the Holocaust to readers of comics greatly enlarges the number of those who are informed of this great tragedy of World War II.

The idea of each race or religion as a different animal was startling. I began to think of why the author may have chosen to do this. I think it was a way of showing how people tend to stereotype one another. I was mindful of the fact that the Nazis were the cats, while the Jews were the lowly mice. I'm curious as to why Spiegelman chose to depict the Poles as pigs. Disdain, perhaps?

In addition, portraying people as animals is another way of allowing those who otherwise would not read about the Holocaust to do so. Seeing people's faces and expressions makes it too painfully real. The animals allow a little distance between the reader and the reality that existed in that time and place.

I was intrigued by Artie's relationship with his father. I can see how the war years changed the father and what pain he carried in his old age. I can also see the impatience and lack of understanding by Artie. There is a world of difference between Holocaust survivors and children of Holocaust survivors. This is very well depicted in the book.

I thought it good of Artie's father to share his personal story with his son. Neither my father nor my mother ever would. What I learned of the war years, I learned from my aunt and uncle many years after both of my parents were dead.

Another aspect of this book that made it especially readable was the interjection of Artie's conversations with his father. It left a little breathing space - time for some relief from the oppressive tension of the story itself. That painful story is often too depressing for people to read in large amounts.

The drawing of the Auschwitz concentration camp gateway near the end of the book left me with a very heavy heart. :(
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LibraryThing member HokieGeek
A very powerful story of which there are many which are simultaneously just like this one and utterly unique and personal. The comic book format is very well used to convey more than mere words could. Brilliant!
LibraryThing member SqueakyChu
I finally got around to reading this book. It left a very deep impression on me. I, as did Art Spiegelman, lost close family in Auschwitz, Poland.

This was an amazing read. I think it was positively brilliant of the author/illustrator to use the graphic novel as the genre in which to present his
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father's story.

Readers of comics are often those who choose to enter a world of fantasy. Bringing the story of the Holocaust to readers of comics greatly enlarges the number of those who are informed of this great tragedy of World War II.

The idea of each race or religion as a different animal was startling. I began to think of why the author may have chosen to do this. I think it was a way of showing how people tend to stereotype one another. I was mindful of the fact that the Nazis were the cats, while the Jews were the lowly mice. I'm curious as to why Spiegelman chose to depict the Poles as pigs. Disdain, perhaps?

In addition, portraying people as animals is another way of allowing those who otherwise would not read about the Holocaust to do so. Seeing people's faces and expressions makes it too painfully real. The animals allow a little distance between the reader and the reality that existed in that time and place.

I was intrigued by Artie's relationship with his father. I can see how the war years changed the father and what pain he carried in his old age. I can also see the impatience and lack of understanding by Artie. There is a world of difference between Holocaust survivors and children of Holocaust survivors. This is very well depicted in the book.

I thought it good of Artie's father to share his personal story with his son. Neither my father nor my mother ever would. What I learned of the war years, I learned from my aunt and uncle many years after both of my parents were dead.

Another aspect of this book that made it especially readable was the interjection of Artie's conversations with his father. It left a little breathing space - time for some relief from the oppressive tension of the story itself. That painful story is often too depressing for people to read in large amounts.

The drawing of the Auschwitz concentration camp gateway near the end of the book left me with a very heavy heart. :(
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LibraryThing member writestuff
Art Spiegelman won the 1992 Pulitzer Prize under the category of Special Awards and Citations - Letters for his amazing graphic books Maus I and Maus II. The books comprise a powerful memoir which recount the lives and survival of the author’s parents Vladek and Anja Spiegelman’s during WWII in
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Poland where they were eventually captured and transported to Auswchitz. But it is also a story about Art Spiegelman’s difficult relationship with his father, and the impact of survival on the survivor’s family.

Told in a cartoon format where the Jews are portrayed as mice and the Nazi soldiers as cats, the story gains much of its power from the form in which it is written.

Spiegelman alternates between Poland during the war (where Vladek recounts the terrible and terrifying days of the Nazi occupation) and Rego Park, New York in the 1980s (where Art and his aging father struggle to establish meaningful lives together).

The result is a story which compels the reader to keep turning the pages while terror comes to life through vivid illustrations. It is a story of survival and finally of love - love between a man and a woman which the German camps could not destroy, and love between a father and son. Maus I: My Father Bleeds History and Maus II: And Here My Troubles Began are powerful documentaries of a family who survived the Holocaust and its impact on their future and the child who was born after the war.

This was my first foray into Graphic Art as story and I was moved and touched by it. If you decide to read Spiegelman’s work, you must read both books, back to back without a rest in between.

Highly recommended.
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LibraryThing member jasbro
Maus was compelling to read, and all the more so for being a graphic novel. I confess to having dismissed it early on due to the format, but then discovered Speigelman’s storytelling genius. His technique of pitting mice and cats against one another particularly impressed me; it’s a gentle way
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to highlight the gulf between polar opposite groups, to soften (a bit) the horror of what actually happened, and yet to still relate a faithful account of his father’s experience. Reading Maus (and Maus II) put Speigelman pretty high on my list(s).
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LibraryThing member Crazymamie
Originally published as a serialized insert over a period of eleven years in the magazine Raw, this graphic novel broke new ground between comic strip and novel, and was one of the works that helped to create a new genre. The first six chapters of that strip are gathered together in this first
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volume which was published in 1986. The remaining chapters were published in a second volume in 1991. In 1994, the two volumes were published together as The Complete Maus. We have these books as two separate volumes, and so here I will discuss just the first one.

Maus I is the story of Spiegelman's father, specifically it is the first part of the story of how Vladek Spiegelman survived the Holocaust as told to his son Art, making this a memoir. It's cleverly done, using mice to depict the Jewish people, cats to represent the German people, and pigs to delineate the non-Jewish Polish people. What I liked about this book was its contrasts. Black and white images combine with subtle and sophisticated humor and wit to bring Art's story off of the pages. Vladek's broken English and character flaws combine with Art's frustration and his struggle to understand his father to paint a picture that is real and vivid and speaks to the humanity in all of us. Highly recommended.
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LibraryThing member LiterateHousewife
I read both Maus I and Maus II during a literature of the holocaust class. These were the first graphic novels I've ever read. These books left a huge impact on me. I would strongly recommend these books to anyone interested in the holocaust. They are educational and highlight the survivor guilt
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that followed World War II - and the impact that had on the children of holocaust survivors.
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LibraryThing member dr_zirk
Maus I is definitely a triumph of the graphic novel form, both because of the extraordinary content and the intelligent use of the graphic medium that Spiegelman wraps around that content.

By concentrating his story on a person (his father, Vladek) and not simply on the inevitable series of
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horrible events the reader knows is coming, Spiegelman manages to weave a narrative thread that transcends the horrors. This is not to suggest that Maus I glosses over any of the many sad parts of this tale. Instead, Spiegelman attempts to understand all of that sadness and horror as something of a mirror turned towards his father, illuminating both the amazing courage and ingenuity his father drew upon to survive, but also building an understanding of how the events of the holocaust shaped the man that Vladek Spiegelman became in his declining years.

What makes Maus I so exceptional then is the author's ability to find a larger story than the well-known history that so many of his readers already understand, even if only in the broadest terms. Maus I makes this dark part of our shared modern history all the more compelling because the protagonist does not even arrive at the gates of Auschwitz until practically the last page - by the time Vladek arrives at that significant juncture of the larger story, we already know him well as a pragmatist and a survivor. The setup for the second volume in the series is exceptional, and there is simply no way to not get a hold of that volume and read through to the end of this incredible work.
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LibraryThing member oldandnewbooksmell
Trigger Warnings: Holocuast, antisemitism, genocide, war, PTSD, depression, suicide, starvation, death by hanging

Maus I is a graphic novel by Art Spiegelman showing both his strain relationship with his father and his father’s retelling of living through the Holocaust.

As I’m sure a lot of
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others have done, once this title made news about being banned in Tennessee, I immediately got my hands on a copy to see what in the world it was for. This needs to be required reading, not banned reading.

This graphic novel was powerful and heart wrenching. This is such an important book that shows a part of history in graphic novel format - something that is easier for some people to read and understand. Spiegelman depicted Jews as wide-eyed rats and Nazis as cats - that already is a huge symbolism.

Spiegelman didn’t sugarcoat his father’s journey. People of all ages went through the Holocaust and went through hell. We shouldn’t “hide” history, otherwise it repeats itself.
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LibraryThing member KatieSpears
Maus I: A Survivor's Tale is a graphic novel by Art Spiegelman depicting his father's survival of the Holocaust. This book is a biography even if it is a graphic novel becasue Spiegelman is telling his father's life story as it happened. This book was written in 1973, but the majority of the action
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takes place during the flashbacks to the 1930's and 1940's during World War II and the events leading up to it. In this book, the Jews are portrayed as mice, the Nazi's are portrayed as cats, and the Poles are portrayed as pigs. Even with the people as animals, the story is still very human and real.

This novel is about Art Spiegelman's father, Vladek, and how he survived the Holocaust. The story begins with Art coming to his father and saying he wants to write a graphic novel about his life during World War II. Vladek agrees, and Art continues to visit and record Vladek's tale. Vladek begins his story with how he managed to marry Anja his first wife. Vladek relates his story of how he had to fight in the war to keep the Germans out, and from there his experiences go down hill. He returns home to find it has been transformed into a world ruled by the Nazi's. From that point, life is about being smart in business and being smart in trusting people. He has to hide with his family in bunkers he made. Eventually, they are found out, but by that point, Vladek and Anja's family has dwindled down to only a few members. The remaining family members get split up, and Vladek and Anja go into hiding and try to escape to Hungary. The end of the novel is about their experiences in trying to be safely smuggled across the border to Hungary.

This book is amazing. It is so interesting that basically a cartoon strip with animals as people can tell such a moving story. I think because the people are animals is what makes this tale so memorable. The subject matter is, of course, very interesting, but the way Art Spiegelman doesn't leave anything our or sugar coat his dad's ornery behavior while telling the story is what engaged me as a reader. It was very truthful even when the truth didn't show Vladek in a positive light, and I appreciated that Spiegelman kept it true to form.

This book raises the issue of the controversies of the Holocaust. I think Spiegelman's opinion is that the Holocaust was horrific, but he feels it's his job to tell a true story so that younger generations can learn from history. I agree with Spiegelman. Had my family survived the Holocaust, I would feel obligated to raise awareness on such issues. I think this book is extremely similar to Night by Elie Wiesel. Night is a biography/fiction novel about Wiesel's own survival of the Holocaust. Even though the story is about Wiesel's personal experiences, the book is still considered a fiction novel. However, Night is brutally truthfull as well and show the horrors of the Holocaust in few words used in an effective way. I think this book raises the issue of modern genocides that should be made known and stopped. I feel more passionate now that awareness is a big step in actions against hate.

Teaching ideas:
-Watch Schindler's List, The Pianist, or The Devil's Arithmatic
-Group project on modern genocide
-Explore the meaning of mice, cats, and pigs as the people in the novel

Maus is a moving graphic novel that keeps the emotion of such a powerful story very real. The way this serious topic is presented is still respectful and tasteful because it is to inform not to ridicule. The book's issues of hate and the Holocaust stir a need for action today against modern genocide. Maus's main point is of survival and love that can survive anything. I think this book would be a great book to read in the classroom because it is a difficult subject matter in an interesting a new way and because the story is so real and moving.
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LibraryThing member phebj
Art Spiegelman uses a comic book format to tell the true story of his parents’ lives in Poland from 1936 to 1944. As Jews, their lives gradually became more and more dangerous until they were playing a real life game of cat and mouse with the Germans and some of the Polish people who felt
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compelled to support the Nazis. Spiegelman portrays this literally. The Jewish people are drawn as mice, the Germans as cats and the Polish people as pigs.

The story from the past is related in the present as Spiegelman interviews his father for the book he wants to write about his experiences during WWII. When things get too intense the narrative switches to the present time and some of the strains in the relationship between father and son are revealed.

This was an interesting way of telling the story of the holocaust as well as what it’s like to be a child of a holocaust survivor. The book ends just as Spiegelman’s parents are caught in the “mouse trap” in the past and Spiegelman and his father part ways in the present.

This story may have been too hard to read in another format and I think that was part of the point of doing it this way--to make it more accessible to more readers. I would definitely recommend this book and will be reading Maus II: A Survivor's Tale: And Here My Troubles Began as soon as possible to see what happens next to both generations of the Spiegelman family.
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LibraryThing member inangulocumlibro
It's hard to explain how this book can be moving and real. The characters are depicted as mice (if Jews), cats (if Germans) and pigs (if Polish), Yet the bodies are movingly human, the character depiction is unforgettable. The story is narrated in cartoon form, yet you forget the cartoonish
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narrative and these Holocaust characters reach you deeply. The relationships between the characters is so real, you think you would recognize these characters if you met them. A book that stays with you long after you put it down.
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LibraryThing member cestovatela
Horrible as it is, I'm sick of reading about the Holocaust. While I recognize the importance of learning about this atrocity, most Holocaust literature focuses on man's inhumanity to man, and by shocking us with the gruesome details of the Holocaust, it smacks us over the head with the moral "never
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forget." Maus takes a different approach. Not content to be a simple comic book, it depicts Jews as mice, Poles as pigs, and Nazis as hungry cats. This gives readers an opportunity to puzzle out symbolism for themselves instead of aggressively battering them with obvious themes. More importantly, even though much of the action takes place in Nazi-occupied Poland, it is really the story of the tense relationship between a father and a son. Art, the narrator, desperately wants to draw his father's story, and getting the material for his new book propels him to visit his father for the first time in two years. While reading, I continually questioned whether Art valued his father or just his story, but at the same time, I understood why he and his father had become estranged. Vladek Spiegelman is judgmental, miserly, and cruel to his new wife. HIs behavior is no doubt the legacy of the atrocity he survived, but that doesn't make it easy to sympathize with him. The final result is a story of an incredible atrocity against the backdrop of simple, every day human fallibility. This juxtaposition made the book far more digestible, more interesting, and more relatable than any Holocaust survivor's tale I have ever read.
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LibraryThing member bartt95
Jesus Christ, this one hit hard. And they make me read this for school; it borders on the sadistic.

Maus is the tale of Vladek Spiegelman, father of Art Spiegelman, the writer of this work. The Jews are mice, the Poles are pigs?, the Nazis are cats. Vladek lives in New York, where he fled with his
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wife after surviving Auschwitz. He is old, sick, and somewhat bitter. His son, working on this comic, asks him to tell him his story of the Holocaust.

And what results is truly haunting. Somehow Vladek and his fellow Jews being mice makes it so much more sad. He and his wife, along with his in-law family and young son, living in Poland, experience the rise of Nazism, see their freedom and their dignity slowly slip out of their hands, and in the end, with almost every single member of Vladek's extended family dead, and his son Richiev, too, his wife and him end up in Auschwitz.

This comic is a true survival story. Vladek's wife, Anna (or Anja), when almost all of her family has been deported, and news of their son's fate reaches them, can no long take it. She collapses, hysterically. Vladek, reduced, like the other Jews, to almost nothing, still clings on, and tries to make his wife continue her life:

"No, darling! To die, it's easy... But you have to struggle for life!"

Hauntingly beautiful. Can't wait to read part II.
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LibraryThing member aagpalo
Powerful personal story of a man's self discovery. Mr Speigelman's touching story of recollecting he's family's history during the holocaust told in the form of a graphic novel is truly touching. His use of the graphic novel format to tell such a story is brilliant. Regardless of your thoughts and
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feelings on graphic novels / comics, this is a must read.
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LibraryThing member cflorap
Author Art Spiegelman's father Vladek is a Holocaust survivor, and agrees to tell his son about his experiences during World War II as a Polish Jew. In the course of Maus I and its sequel, Vladek's story comes to life in black-and-white comic book panels, but it is anything but comedic. The past is
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interrupted by the present interactions between Vladek and Art, ensuring that readers do not forget that this is a true story--that Vladek is remembering unthinkably awful experiences while, for example, pedaling on a stationary bike.
It seems incredible that Spiegelman managed to fit such a powerful and complicated story into such a small graphic novel. Each panel and each page is dense with meaning, the pictures and words cooperating effectively to carry the narrative and underlying themes and emotions. Spiegelman chooses to portray Jews as mice, Nazis as cats, and Poles as pigs, which suggests that racism dehumanizes while also making it easier for readers to identify characters belonging to different groups because these group memberships are so significant to each character's situation. Incidentally, this also reminds readers how difficult it would be to identify who was German, Jewish, or Polish if the characters were all portrayed as human.
Maus is highly recommended for public and high school libraries. History teachers may consider it as a text for teaching World War II, as it is a true story and told in a way that may be accessible to more students than standard history texts. It is also recommended for anyone interested in learning about the Holocaust and is an example of the extreme versatility of the graphic novel format.
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LibraryThing member multifaceted
This book is amazing from many different standpoints: the artistic, the historical, and the psychological to name the most poignant. While the "plot" of the book itself is generally not something "new", nor is it told in a very different light than many of the other tales (besides being in comic
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format), every new viewpoint we can get is helpful to gain insight into these experiences we can never fully understand.

Interestingly enough, though, I found this book most moving in the way the characters personalities are displayed--and I don't mean necessarily during the large bulk of the story that takes places in WWII, but afterwards, in those glimpses we get of Spiegelman's interactions with his father and their relationships with their now deceased mother. Spiegelman's art and writing makes the characters peculiarities shine through in a way normal books have never done. So it doesn't really come across as another book on the Holocaust; instead it's a book on what the Holocaust DOES to a person--to a "survivor"--and to the families of the survivors. Spiegelman's mother is the typical survivor who was susceptible to depression even before the Holocaust, but afterwards she ends up one of the many suicidal survivors. Only she's NOT just another person, she's someone's wife, someone's mother. The father is totally transformed by his experiences in the camps in a probably typical way, but it's interesting to see how, again, this affect others when you realize this person is a father and a husband, not just a "typical survivor". The son, the author himself, comes across as the typical younger person who wants to live "in the now", who doesn't fully understand his parents and the world they come from, and doesn't necessarily want to. But the book itself betrays him: I think he must have gained this understanding between the interviews and the book's publication.

Even though the characters have such a unique experience, their personalities and quirks are entirely relate-able in bits and pieces--in fact I think this book can really help us gain and understanding with the different peoples and different generations around us in general. Next time you want to say something to your grandparents for never throwing anything away, especially the food on their plates, take a step back and think about WHY. Maybe, like Vladek, they come from a time when they literally didn't have anything.
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LibraryThing member fodroy
Wow. This is good. Maus II is just as good (though I don't own that one).
LibraryThing member TanyaTomato
Graphic novel recount of his Jewish father's experience during the war. Very informative and realistic. Also touches a lot on effects that survivors had for the rest of their lives.
LibraryThing member heidialice
First part of two recounting Spiegelman's conversations with his father about the latter's experiences before and during the holocaust.

Personal, revealing account of the horrors of war, and what it means to be a survivor.
LibraryThing member tapestry100
Maus, A Survivor's Tale is a son's pictorial version of his father's story of survival during WWII.
Both haunting and mesmerizing, sometimes funny and touching, this is a story of perseverance and about what the Jews had to suffer through at the hands of the Nazis in WWII Poland. Spiegleman never
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sugar-coats what his father had to endure in order to keep he and his wife alive. A true work of art.
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LibraryThing member ragwaine
Why the cat & mouse thing? Too much modern day, too fast. Easy reading.
LibraryThing member Arctic-Stranger
"Ah, friends. Put people in a room for two days without food, then you find out who your friends are."

With that phrase (Or something like it, I am doing this from memory) Art Speigelman becomes interested in his fathers tales of adventure as a Jew during WWII. The Jews are portrayed as Mice and
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Nazis are cats in this cat and mouse game of survival. But it is as much about Speigelman's father today, which is part of what makes this more than just a survivor's book.
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LibraryThing member knittingfreak
It's a graphic novel in two parts, which deals with one family's ordeal living through the Holocaust. I have had very little experience with graphic novels, so I wasn't sure what to expect. This book is actually based on the true story of the author's family, Vladek and Anja Spiegelman who both
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ended up in Auschwitz during WWII. Unlike most of the rest of their family, including their oldest son, they survived the war and emigrated to the U.S. afterwards. The book is very well-done and documents a well-known yet little understood event in history. I don't know how anyone can ever truly come to grips with what happened to so many people under the Nazis. In fact, in addition to the story of what happened to Art's family, the book is also about his difficult relationship with his father. Obviously the living hell that his parents endured changed them irrevocably. Art didn't always understand why his father was the way he was. So, writing this book served to help heal their strained relationship, as well.

As I said, I haven't had much experience with graphic novels. In the beginning, I was a little distracted by the drawings. But, after the first third of the book, I got into a rhythm, which allowed me to read and look at the drawings without being distracted. The book actually went very quickly. I'm glad I read it, and I'd be willing to read more graphic novels in the future.
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Original publication date

1986

ISBN

0394747232 / 9780394747231
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