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My Father Bleeds History (Maus) Paperback – August 12, 1986
"Hitler's Forgotten Children" by Ingrid von Oelhafen
The Lebensborn program abducted as many as half a million children from across Europe. Through a process called Germanization, they were to become the next generation of the Aryan master race in the second phase of the Final Solution. Hitler's Forgotten Children is both a harrowing personal memoir and a devastating investigation into the awful crimes and monstrous scope of the Lebensborn program. Learn more | See related books
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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
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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).Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Amazing book! worth reading, it is a very interesting story.Published 7 days ago by Jessica Infante
Art Spiegelman’s father and mother were both sent to Auschwitz in 1944 during the Holocaust. Both survived only for his mother to eventually commit suicide. Read morePublished 9 days ago by The Ultimate Book Geek
I loved this book. The style of it is fantastic and the artistry is eerie and symbolic. This book gives you a different perspective of the same story we see over and over... Read morePublished 21 days ago by Erik
I made the “mistake” of purchasing Maus II over 20 years ago (simply because the bookstore didn’t have the first volume). Read morePublished 1 month ago by DACHokie