Customer Reviews

347 Reviews
5 star:
4 star:
3 star:
2 star:
1 star:
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review

The most helpful favorable review
The most helpful critical review

198 of 201 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hardcover Includes Parts I and II
Browsing through the reviews and comments about Maus, I saw that there was some question as to whether the hardcover edition comprised Parts I and II. This is understandable because the product is listed in Amazon as "The Complete Maus: A Survivor's Tale (No 1)," which seems contradictory.

When I was considering purchasing it, I looked at the number of pages...
Published on February 10, 2010 by Jay Bee

3.0 out of 5 stars Original tale about the holocaust
I'm an absolute layman when it comes to graphic novels. So this was hard to adapt to, especially because Spiegelman's drawing is quite particular and has something seemingly/deliberately careless. At first I had some difficulty to get into the story: it seemed to doubt between a father-son-conflict and the story of the persecution of the jews in Nazi-Germany; the...
Published 7 days ago by Marc L

‹ Previous | 1 235 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

198 of 201 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hardcover Includes Parts I and II, February 10, 2010
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Complete Maus, 25th Anniversary Edition (Hardcover)
Browsing through the reviews and comments about Maus, I saw that there was some question as to whether the hardcover edition comprised Parts I and II. This is understandable because the product is listed in Amazon as "The Complete Maus: A Survivor's Tale (No 1)," which seems contradictory.

When I was considering purchasing it, I looked at the number of pages that were listed for the edition and guessed that it included both parts of the story. So I bought it, it arrived fine, and I am now writing to confirm that yes, this edition includes I and II.

Amazon should look into this and remove the "(No 1)" from the listing's title.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

262 of 269 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More subtle than can be understood in a single reading, February 26, 2003
By A Customer
These books are an easy and fast read, but by no means are they simple. In two slim comic books, Art Spiegelman chronicles his parents' movement from comfortable homes in Poland to the death camps of Auschwitz and Birkenau, and from there to a surreally banal afterlife in upstate New York. We watch the destruction of the Holocaust continue in Spiegelman's father's transformation from a bright, good-looking youth to a miserly neurotic, his mother's deterioration from a sensitive, sweet girl into a suicide, and in the author's own unhappy interactions with his parents.
I have read some of the most negative reviews of these books, and I respectfully disagree. Some negative reviews ("Spiegelman is a jerk") castigate Spiegelman for his shamefully self-interested milking of his father's life and the Holocaust. Other negative reviews find fault with the unoriginality of the story, or discover historical inaccuracies, self-contradictions, or simplifications in the tale. Finally, a set of reviews are upset with Spiegelman's coding of people of different nationalities as animals(especially the Poles, who were also victimized by the Nazis but are depicted as pigs in the comics.)
The first criticism is both deserved and unfair. Deserved, because Spiegelman profits by the pain and death of millions, including his own family. Unfair, because Spiegelman himself consciously provides the basis for our criticism that he mocked and neglected his elderly father at the same time that he fed his own success upon his father's tales. The two volumes echo with his regret and unexpiable guilt at his treatment of his parents, and at his own success and survival. To attack Spiegelman for these things is like scolding a man in the midst of his self-immolation.
The second type of criticism finds _Maus_ to be sophomoric, inaccurate, or repetitive of other Holocaust survivor's experiences. The defense here is that Maus is the story of a single family, seen through the eyes of a single man (Vladek Spiegelman), and filtered again through his son. It is almost certain that the elderly Vladek forgot, exaggerated, or hid details, just as it is certain that his son summarized and misunderstood. However, the quasi-fictionalized format of the comic book throws this subjectivity into relief. The destroyed diaries of Spiegelman's mother are a reminder of the millions of life stories left untold, including stories perhaps too horrible and shameful for the survivors to reveal. _Maus_ does not claim to be an objective, authoritative history of the Holocaust, and in fact tries to emphasize its own limitations.
While other works may better convey the Jewish experience in the Holocaust, the innovative format of _Maus_ justifies its existence, as it allows the story to reach a greater audience.
Finally, many have objected to the negative stereotyping of the many peoples appearing in the book, especially the Poles. Spiegelman draws the Jews as innocent mice, but the Germans as bloodthirsty cats, and the Poles as selfish pigs. More amusingly (because they appear infrequently in the story) the French are drawn as frogs, the Swedes as reindeer, and the British as cold fish. The Americans are dogs, mainly friendly bow-wow dogs but also sometimes cold-eyed predators capable of pouncing on a mouse or rat. I believe that the wrongness of stereotypes was a major reason why Spiegelman used them. The Nazis are recorded as having called the Jews "vermin" and the Poles "pigs". Whether they had the qualities of these animals or not, they were treated as such... and such they were forced to become despite themselves. The Jews had to hide, hoard, and deceive; the Poles were compelled to act out of self-interest just to survive.
In other words, I think that Spiegelman's stereotypes were a deliberate choice. The WHOLE POINT of _Maus_ is how the dehumanization of the Holocaust twisted people beyond their capacities... how the camps tried to make people as ugly and despicable as their worst racial stereotypes, by making them all alike in their fear. Sometimes they succeeded.
Neither Poles nor Germans are depicted as only selfish, cowardly, and cruel in _Maus_. In fact, there are many Polish in Spiegelman's books who are shown as fellow-sufferers, or kind despite the risks to their own lives, just as there were Jews who betrayed their own. Look closely at the drawings-- I open Maus II to a random page, and see both pigs and mice in the prison suits, both as capos and victims. Who is the kind priest who renews Vladek's hope on page 28? A Pole! Even the Germans are seen to suffer from the war, caught by powers beyond their control. Meanwhile, Vladek himself is shown to be an inflexible racist (II, p. 98).

I argue, therefore, that the above criticisms of _Maus_ show a hasty reading of the books and poor comprehension of how an artist(even of non-fiction) chooses to convey a theme.
As a non-European, I have no personal investment in Jewish, German, or Polish points of view. However, as a second-generation American and child of war survivors [a civil war, so we are both victims and oppressors], I have a chord that resonates with the story of the Spiegelmans. I just re-read "Maus II" this afternoon and found to my amazement that it was still able to draw tears. In fact, when I first read the Maus books ten years ago I don't recall them affecting me so deeply... but I was younger then and had only an intellectual understanding of many things, such as love, fear, guilt, death, and weakness.
I wholeheartedly recommend these books to those who are willing to read them more than once. If you are not moved by them now, perhaps later you will be. Meanwhile, let's do our best to stop such suffering around the world.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

150 of 162 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Maus": an important literary landmark, August 21, 2001
Art Spiegelman's "Maus: A Survivor's Tale" is a unique and unforgettable work of literature. This two-volume set of book-length comics (or "graphic novels," if you prefer) tells the story of the narrator, Artie, and his father Vladek, a Holocaust survivor. "Maus" is thus an important example of both Holocaust literature and of the graphic novel. The two volumes of "Maus" are subtitled "My Father Bleeds History" and "And Here My Troubles Began"; they should be read together to get the biggest impact.
Artie is a comic book artist who is trying to create art that is meaningful, not just commercial. As the two volumes of "Maus" unfold, he gradually learns the full story of his father's history as a Jewish survivor of the World War II Holocaust. There is a complex "book within the book" motif, since the main character is actually writing the book that we are reading. This self-referentiality also allows Spiegelman to get in some satiric material.
The distinguishing conceit of "Maus" involves depicting the books' humanoid characters as having animal heads. All the Jews have mice heads, the Germans are cats, the Americans dogs, etc. It is a visually provocative device, although not without problematic aspects. To his credit, Spiegelman addresses some of the ambiguities of this visual device in the course of the 2 volumes. For example, Artie's wife, a Frenchwoman who converted to Judaism, wonders what kind of animal head she should have in the comic.
"Maus" contains some stunning visual touches, as well as some truly painful and thought-provoking dialogue. Vladek is one of the most extraordinary characters in 20th century literature. As grim as the two books' subject matter is, there are some moments of humor and warmth. Overall, "Maus" is a profound reflection on family ties, history, memory, and the role of the artist in society.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

82 of 97 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, Tremendous, April 4, 2003
This review is from: The Complete Maus, 25th Anniversary Edition (Hardcover)
The title of this review consists of words I don't use too often. But this is a masterpiece that deserved its Pulitzer Prize and then some. What makes Spiegelman's work so moving is the juxtaposition of a supposedly lighthearted form, the comic strip, with the greatest evil and suffering in human history, the Holocaust. Spiegelman's parents miraculously survived the concentration camps, being among very few survivors, getting by on luck and (in the case of Spiegelman's father) a lot of resourcefulness. This is their story, from the point of view of the father, who lost nearly all of his relatives. With the Jews as mice and the Nazis as cats, this work pulls no punches in describing the true horrors of the Holocaust, and Spiegelman's minimalist artwork makes the images all the more disturbing. You don't get this kind of emotion, terror, and brutal honesty in standard written accounts of the period. But underneath the direct suffering of the Holocaust, the true theme of this book is the lasting effects on the Spiegelman family, including the father's lasting agony and the mental illness shared by both Spiegelman's mother and himself, who hadn't even been born yet. The strained relationship between father and son are the true heart of this tremendous work. I haven't been this blown away by a work of literature in a very long time, if ever.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

24 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Maus brought it all home, December 31, 2003
By A Customer
Growing up Jewish, the Holocaust became an inevitable part of my identity. In school and in my brief religious education I've read book after book after book, seen documentary after documentary, explaining to me in gut-wrenching detail what happened to my ancestors at the hands of the Nazis. Sad to say, after so many accounts, so many black-and-white photos of skeletons and diary entries of anguished children, I felt like I'd seen it all. I thought there was nothing to surprise me about the Holocaust. Then, in seventh grade, my Hebrew school teacher handed me a box covered with cartoon pictures of cowering mice and towering cats. Inside were two slim red-backed books of cartoons. He said, "We're reading this in class. Go ahead and get a head start."
I've read Maus I and II several times since then, and each time it surprises me with its understated power. It's an almost magical combination of words and images that coalesce into two--almost three--parallel stories: that of Vladek Spiegelman's survival and eventual liberation from Auschwitz, and his relationship with his beloved, slightly unstable wife Anja, who committed suicide after the war; and that of the progress of Vladek's relationship with his grown son Art, the author of these books. By recreating his parents' world, before and during the Holocaust, Art Spiegelman attempts to understand how those experiences shaped his father, and tries to come to terms with his own frustration in dealing with Vladek now, a stubborn, bitter, ultimately fragile old man.
Spiegelman's cartoon images are brutal--not, for the most part, because they're horrifically graphic, but because the angular line drawings, the opaque shadows, and the humanoid animals lend a creepy surrealism to the stories. The Jews are mice; the Nazis, cats; the Poles, pigs; the French, frogs; the Americans, dogs...In one sequence, the cartoonist and his therapist appear as humans, wearing mouse masks, while stray dogs and cats wander the streets. Every once in a while, as a story ends, a series of drawings is punctuated by a dark, narrow sketch of Auschwitz's smoking chimneys. It's haunting.
It's difficult to convey in words the scope and power of Spiegelman's depictions. For this jaded Jewish preteen, Maus finally brought home the impact of the Holocaust, not only the inhumanity and horror of death, but the lasting burdens carried by the survivors and their children.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

27 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Of Mice and Men, May 18, 2001
I first read Maus in a college bookstore in Auckland, New Zealand. I was searching for a textbook and came across the first volume of Speigelman's 2-part series completely by accident. Feeling somewhat nervous about a comic that portrays Jews as mice and Nazis as cats, I nevertheless picked it up. Two hours later, I was standing in exactly the same spot, oblivious even to the bookstore clerks who were trying to shoo me out. I was riveted, disturbed and moved by this incredible piece of literature. Maus is by turns informative, evocative, funny and brutally honest as an account of how one man dealt with the "feckless thuggery" of history.
When one compares Maus (vols. 1 and 2) with all the heroic nostalgia surrounding World War 2 that is coming out in popular culture these days, one is immediately struck by some interesting contrasts. In movies such as Saving Private Ryan, the filmmakers and audiences all emphasize the visual accuracy or "feel" as paramount. However, if we leave aside the grand patriotic narratives and the bloody violence, there is very little left. We are not really shown what the effects of the war actually were on people's lives. Realism, it appears is limited to the battlefield.
Maus on the other hand, makes no claims to visual realism. This is in fact the strength (as others have pointed out) of Spiegelman's approach to the complex, multi-layered subject of his father's experiences as a Holocaust survivor. By making the surface of the narrative explicitly transparent, Spiegelman can take us deeper into the tangled and haunted inner worlds of both Vladek and Art himself without the distractions of "visual accuracy". By using the comic medium, Speigelman can actually present multiple story lines and conflicting accounts without sacrificing their emotional impact. His treatment of discrepancies between his father's memories of Auschwitz and those of other prisoners regarding the famous orchestra at the gates, is one excellent example. His depictions of Jews as mice, Poles as pigs and Germans as cats are another exzample of masterful condensation of meaning, bring up volumes of deep background with nary a word written. Some of this is made a little more explicit in Maus II where a reporter asks Speigelman how he would draw Israeli Jews and he replies "I have no idea ... porcupines?" It's this kind of self-awareness that makes Maus a masterpiece on many different levels.
Make no mistake however, for all its "non-realism", Speigelman's depictions of starving, panic-stricken prisoners packed into cattle-cars or the piles of dead and dying are no less brutally evocative than the photographs taken by Allied cameramen on the liberation of the camps. His eye and hand are brilliant, his ear and pen unsparing in his depiction of history, himself and his father. I just read an article in the New Yorker regarding Lt. Colonel James Thompson, who was the longest-held US POW in Vietnam. One of his psychiatrists describes Thompson as someone who was able to survive by constructing a personality that was in the end, crushingly maladaptive to living "back in the world". Re-reading Maus and Maus II, one can see the same kinds of process at work with Vladek.
I will be using Maus" in one of my college-level courses on Race and Politics. In my opinion, Maus, is much more effective than Spileberg's "Schindler's List" in conveying the immediate and ongoing human costs of the Holocaust, along with beautifully understated evocations of the political and cultural background in Europe in which it took place.
I had the privilege of hearing Art Spiegelman speak a number of years ago. At the discussion he played part of a fragment of his tape recorded conversations with his father. Hearing Vladek's actual voice after hearing it in my head for so many years was both strange and wierdly familiar. Speigelman has given his father (and himself) a way to speak out across generations and cultures to bring you face to face with some of the most difficult and unnerving issues in the human psyche and our collective human history.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An important graphic novel about the Holocaust., April 12, 2006
OverTheMoon ( - See all my reviews
MAUS is about as educational as any graphic novel could hope to be. The problem is the subject matter does not make for entertainment even though MAUS is a graphic novel and the characters are all Animal Farm type creatures, there is more than just a touch of Orwell here. As it stands Art Spiegelman has spent years drawing this book and it delivers a powerful and often horrifying account of survival. There are a few of these types of political graphic novels and MAUS seems to be the #1 candidate for the one you should read if you want to venture down that path. The problem is, you don't really enjoy what you are reading and it is hard to call it entertainment. Important, lengthy reading that I actually covered in the space of a few months on the toilet seat (not a bad way to get through this I might add). Like I said, it is not something you will enjoy but you will be glad that you read it.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Modern Allegory, November 26, 1999
A veteran of the underground comic scene in the 1970s and a more recently a cover artist for the New Yorker, in the late 80s, Art Spiegelman undertook a project of interviewing his father Vladek, a Polish Jew who survived the holocaust in Auschwitz. He turned the narrative into an allegorical, graphical representation of the ordeal, in which Europe is a menagerie of humans behaving at our raw, animalistic worst, and perhaps best as well. Umberto Eco claimed that "Maus is a book that cannot be put down, truly, even to sleep." This was certainly true for me when I read it. Perhaps the only 'comic book' (as inappropriate as that term may be here) to win a Pulitzer Prize, Maus is gripping and compelling. Some have criticized it for relating simply a story which was no more remarkable than millions of others. Can anything different be said, however, of Night, or The Diary of Anne Frank? Does that make it any less important that the story be told? And yet, in Spiegelman's cat and mouse play, where moral virtues, failings, and decrepitude are writ large, Maus is also exceptional because of the strength of its allegory, which is almost Spenserian in its strength.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How can people claim this misguided?, December 19, 2005
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Maus was an excellent portrayal of how Jewish people suffered under Nazi advancement. I am not Jewish, but you can really see what heinous things Jewish (and many non-Jews) went through, and it really gets all the way down to the core of what makes us human. People are occasionally giving this book bad reviews saying that it provides a very narrow view of Nazi atrocities, and that it is racist. I cannot see that at all.

You have to come into this book knowing that it is going to be focused on the Jewish people... for God's sake, the titles of the book tell you that within themselves "My Father Bleeds History", and "Here My Troubles Began". Notice the use of "My" in both of those titles. Plus, he is simply sharing the story that his father is telling him... It doesn't mean he is trying to mold people's minds to think a certain way, or trying to pass some kind of propoganda. It simply shows a very first person view of how someone perceived everything that happened... and since the man telling the story (his father) suffered through it all, I think we can easily afford him that view.

Just understand that because he shows the Poles as pigs, he isn't trying to tell you that the Polish people didn't suffer. His father apparently just encountered Poles who were loyal to the Nazi regime (and there were some that did) - and he tells it like he saw it. Don't pass up on reading this one because a couple of people take offense to it by trying to find hidden meaning. It is a shocking personal account, and will open your eyes so wide, you'll think you just drank a triple-shot of whiskey.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

19 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A worthwhile read, but..., February 16, 2007
Sheetal Bahl (New Delhi, India) - See all my reviews
I haven't read many graphic novels, but I am decently well-read otherwise, and my knowledge of the Holocaust would be above the average person's, but not phenomenal. Given that background, and all that I had read about Maus, I was expecting a "tour de force" that would make at least a minor dent on my reading career. That, unfortunately, was not to be, and while I finished the book feeling that the time spent on it was definitely well spent, the book is already fading in my memory.

Maus tells the tale of an artist who decides to write a comic book based on his Father's recount of the Holocaust, which, in fact, is what the author is doing based on his own Father's experiences. The book spans about 4 decades from the mid-thirties to the seventies, covering the pre-WWII period to the time when the author is actually exploring the past with his Father and writing this book. There are two stories intertwined marvelously in this book: a first-hand survivor's experience of life before, during, and after the Holocaust, and that of a relationship between an ageing Father and young-to-middle aged son who have a serious disconnect.

The two stories could actually have been written independently, but it is their excellent juxtaposition which is one of the clear highlights of the book, for it has a multiplier affect on the poignancy of both the Father's and the Son's situations. Each of the stories themselves is well crafted, managing to weave together a bunch of incidents across points in time to create a very smoothly flowing narrative. I was particularly impressed by the telling of the Father-Son relationship, for it manages to pick and show very small events which we know can cumulatively build up to create tremendous long-term frustration, but are almost never able to remember, or recount effectively, or demonstrate the impact of, either to ourselves or to others. Art picks his moments beautifully, and even though the setting is completely different, I felt that I could completely empathize with him (as I am sure my Parents would be able to with his Father!)

The recount of the Holocaust had less of an impact on me, possibly because I was familiar enough with the nature of the incidents, if not a particular man's plight. The exploration of the atrocities was done in a very straight-forward, linear, and almost journalistic fashion (which is somewhat understandable given Art's leanings.) Consequently, while it was still somewhat horrific to revisit these heinous crime scenes, the impact was diminished as there was nothing different in the story. As a contrast, think of the film "Life is Beautiful", and you'll understand how a difference in the storyline or presentation style can significantly enhance the poignancy and impact even when lesser time is spent on the war crimes themselves.

The artwork in the book is average, although it does have it moments of brilliance. The most impactful choice of course is that of portraying people from different nationalities in different and appropriate animal forms e.g. Jews as mice and Germans as cats.

Overall, I would definitely recommend reading the book, but with a lowered set of expectations than one would normally develop upon reading the reams of extreme praise that have been showered upon this book. Keep that in mind, and I am quite confident you will find the book a very worthwhile reading experience.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

‹ Previous | 1 235 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First


The Complete Maus, 25th Anniversary Edition
The Complete Maus, 25th Anniversary Edition by Art Spiegelman (Hardcover - November 19, 1996)
$35.00 $19.77
In Stock
Add to cart Add to wishlist
Search these reviews only
Send us feedback How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you? Let us know here.