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Maus I: A Survivor's Tale: My Father Bleeds History Paperback – Deckle Edge, August 12, 1986


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Maus I: A Survivor's Tale: My Father Bleeds History + Maus II: A Survivor's Tale: And Here My Troubles Began + Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood
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Product Details

  • Series: My Father Bleed's History (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Pantheon; 1st edition (August 12, 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0394747232
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394747231
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 0.5 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (313 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,035 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Some historical events simply beggar any attempt at description--the Holocaust is one of these. Therefore, as it recedes and the people able to bear witness die, it becomes more and more essential that novel, vigorous methods are used to describe the indescribable. Examined in these terms, Art Spiegelman's Maus is a tremendous achievement, from a historical perspective as well as an artistic one.

Spiegelman, a stalwart of the underground comics scene of the 1960s and '70s, interviewed his father, Vladek, a Holocaust survivor living outside New York City, about his experiences. The artist then deftly translated that story into a graphic novel. By portraying a true story of the Holocaust in comic form--the Jews are mice, the Germans cats, the Poles pigs, the French frogs, and the Americans dogs--Spiegelman compels the reader to imagine the action, to fill in the blanks that are so often shied away from. Reading Maus, you are forced to examine the Holocaust anew.

This is neither easy nor pleasant. However, Vladek Spiegelman and his wife Anna are resourceful heroes, and enough acts of kindness and decency appear in the tale to spur the reader onward (we also know that the protagonists survive, else reading would be too painful). This first volume introduces Vladek as a happy young man on the make in pre-war Poland. With outside events growing ever more ominous, we watch his marriage to Anna, his enlistment in the Polish army after the outbreak of hostilities, his and Anna's life in the ghetto, and then their flight into hiding as the Final Solution is put into effect. The ending is stark and terrible, but the worst is yet to come--in the second volume of this Pulitzer Prize-winning set. --Michael Gerber

From School Library Journal

YA Told with chilling realism in an unusual comic-book format, this is more than a tale of surviving the Holocaust. Spiegelman relates the effect of those events on the survivors' later years and upon the lives of the following generation. Each scene opens at the elder Spiegelman's home in Rego Park, N.Y. Art, who was born after the war, is visiting his father, Vladek, to record his experiences in Nazi-occupied Poland. The Nazis, portrayed as cats, gradually introduce increasingly repressive measures, until the Jews, drawn as mice, are systematically hunted and herded toward the Final Solution. Vladek saves himself and his wife by a combination of luck and wits, all the time enduring the torment of hunted outcast. The other theme of this book is Art's troubled adjustment to life as he, too, bears the burden of his parents' experiences. This is a complex book. It relates events which young adults, as the future architects of society, must confront, and their interest is sure to be caught by the skillful graphics and suspenseful unfolding of the story. Rita G. Keeler, St. John's School , Houston
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

This is the book my daughter needed for a high school class, and I then read it as well.
Timmelmik
Those stories need to be added to ones like Maus to show that these things can, and will, happen if we don't take steps to stop them.
Reluctant Consumer
Art Spiegelman tells his father's story of being forced into Concentration Camps during the Holocaust.
Chris LaFey

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

140 of 145 people found the following review helpful By Greg Harris (gharris@law.harvard.edu) on May 4, 1998
Format: Paperback
This is a powerful work. The tale of a young man's painful relationship with his father is elegantly interwoven with the father's recollection of life as a Jew in Nazi-occupied Poland. Spiegelman's skill and honesty make this a raw, gut-wrenching read, though the tale is somehow ultimately uplifting.
I first read this book as a teenager, and would highly recommend it to people of any age. Over the years, I have re-read it frequently and shared it with friends of all ages. All have taken much from Spiegelman's tale.
A few notes must be made in response to the 10/26/97 comment posted below by a reviewer from Ontario, Canada. It is quite clear that this reviewer did not, in fact, read the book. (S)he mistakenly attacks Spiegelman for portraying the Poles as rats, and wonders if he would be offended if a book were written portraying Jews as rats. Anyone who took the time to read Maus (or merely to examine it's cover!) would know that it is, in fact, the Jewish people who are portrayed as mice/rats, whereas the Poles are portrayed not as vermin, but rather as pigs.
In fact, far from a "vicious" attack against Poles, there are many acts of kindness by Polish people portrayed in the book. Certainly there is unkindness as well, but how can the reviewer forget that this is a factual account of Vladek Spiegelman's life, told from his perspective. If unkind acts by Polish people are a part of that life, then they should be in the book.
Finally, the reviewer in question inelegantly raises a point of some merit, though it is one that is only tangentially related to Spiegelman's work. The Polish people did, in fact, suffer horribly at the hands of both Nazis and Soviets alike.
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73 of 78 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 7, 2001
Format: Paperback
As a history and literature major, I wrote my senior thesis on Maus and Maus II because, after reading them for a class, I couldn't stop thinking about them. The imagery, both drawn and implied, was masterful. Each panel tells the story of the Holocaust as SOMEONE REMEMBERS IT. Spiegelman took his father's story and graphically interpreted it in an incredibly moving way. He did not write a work of historical fact (for whatever those books are worth anyway - even history is a work of memory and interpretation). I love these graphic novels for what they are - brilliant literature and testimony.
I was looking over some of these reviews of Maus because I am going to see Spiegelman speak this weekend and just wanted to know what others had said in the past. I was disheartened to read some of the negative responses to the use of animal caricatures, especially since I have always felt this was the most ingenius part of the works. Looking at these reviews, though, I remembered an interview with Spiegelman I read a while back. He explains the animal caricatures a bit, and I thought it might be beneficial to place a quote here, in this forum.
Published in The Comics Journal, October 1991:
Spiegelman says of the animal portrayals,
"These images are not my images. I borrowed them from the Germans. At a certain point I wanted to go to Poland, and I had to get a visa. I put in my application, and then I got a call from the consul. He said 'the Polish attache wants to speak with you.' And I knew what he wanted to talk to me about. On the way over there, I tried to figure out what I was going to say to him. 'I wanted to draw noble stallions, but I don't do horses very well?' When I got there, he gave me the perfect opening. He said, 'You know, the Nazis called us schwein' (German for pig).
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58 of 65 people found the following review helpful By speedracer on June 29, 2001
Format: Paperback
First of all, if you've read or are reading the other reviews, ignore the blather about how the whole "Animal Farm" metaphor--Jews as mice, Germans as cats, etc..--being racist and demeaning.
Art Spiegelman attempts to tell the story of his father Vladek's life in Hitler's Europe. By and large, the book is a detailed, objective retelling of his Vladek's story. However, as Art himself will realize, "I can't even make sense out of my relationship with my father--how am I supposed to make sense out of the Holocaust?" and "Reality is much too complex for comics--so much has to be left out or distorted." Thus liberated from the impossible standard of complete objectivity, Art is free to insert two important subjective elements into the story--the depiction of different races as different species, and the insertion of himself as a character in MAUS.
Obviously, Art is not a overt racist--in fact, in the second part of MAUS, Art will scold his father for distrusting a black person, and a German-Jewish couple will help Vladek return home after being freed from the death camps. The point of portraying Jews as mice, Germans as cats, Poles as pigs, etc. is to show what race relations during Hitler's Europe might have been like.
The characterization of race doesn't end there, though--as the scene shifts from Nazi Germany to the present, and as Art must suffer the daily trials and tribulations of life with a father permanently scarred by his experiences, Art depicts himself as a mouse as well, a confession that he himself is unable to completely escape the aftermath of the poisoned race relations of the Holocaust. Maybe this makes him a covert racist. But if he is, then who isn't?
Art's involvement in MAUS goes beyond interviewing his father, though.
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