Review – Maus, A Survivor’s Tale I: My Father Bleeds History by Art Spiegelman

Maus I


I’ve been finishing a lot of books lately with only one response: wow.  Maus I is no different.  It is a graphic novel that follows the experiences of Art Spiegelman’s father and mother before and during WWII.  They were Jews who lived in Poland, and the terrifying story of their survival during the war is heartbreaking and so engrossing that you will read it in one sitting, unable to put it down.

I began reading this last night, when I went to get some coffee.  The shop was going to close soon, so I was just going to sit for a while and drink and read and be happy.  What ended up happening was I got so lost in the story, the girl who makes the coffee had to tap my shoulder and ask me to leave after they closed.  I then went and sat in my car, conveniently located under a streetlight, and finished the book before going home.  I couldn’t even put it down to drive the four blocks home.

In the story, each race is a different type of animal.  In any other story, this would have seemed offensive, but here it works so perfectly to illustrate just how horrible and cruel the actions of the Germans (depicted as cats) were against the Jews (depicted as mice).  I thought one of the more fascinating aspects of the novel were when the mice were pretending to be pigs (Polish).  They donned masks and it was just so poignant of an illustration: hiding yourself to survive.  It’s really subtle and really brilliant.

For me, though, I was just as engrossed by the interactions between Art, his father, and his step-mother Mala.  They were funny and sad at the same time.  The story of Anja, Art’s mother, is tragic and brought me to tears more than once.  (In a public place, no less!)

I’ll leave you now with some pages from the story, so they can speak for themselves:

maus stories


98% – Really, you can’t miss this one.  If you read nothing else that I recommend, please read this.  (And if you come softly).

Other reviews (Some are the complete Maus, including I & II):

At Home with Books
Jackets & Covers
Trish’s Reading Nook
Lesley’s Book Nook
Reading in Appalachia
Books of Mee
A Fondness for Reading
Life in the Thumb
books i done read
things mean a lot


13 thoughts on “Review – Maus, A Survivor’s Tale I: My Father Bleeds History by Art Spiegelman

  1. The animals really fascinated me as well and I think Spiegelman uses the different depictions in a number of different ways. Definitely interesting how the mice put on the pig masks when they were trying to pose as Gentile Poles.

    I absolutely agree that this is not one to be missed.

    1. I finished that one, but I’m not sure I’m going to write a full review of it, because it doesn’t really feel separate from the first one. I think I will do a little mini-review for it.

  2. […] Maw Books Blog | Caribousmom | Rebecca Reads | Educating Petunia | Things Mean A Lot | The Hidden Side of Leaf | Nothing of Importance | Bold. Blue. Adventure. | Rhinoa’s Ramblings | In Spring it is the Dawn | 1morechapter Maus I Maus II | A Life in Books | An Adventure in Reading | Thoughts of Joy Maus I Maus II | Book Nut | Books I Done Read (the only negative review 🙂 | Out of the Blue | The Indextrious Reader | Cynical Optimism | Booknotes by Lisa | A Fondness for Reading (Maus I) | Historical Tapestry | where troubles melt like lemon drops | Regular Rumination (Maus I) […]

  3. If you liked Maus, I definitely recommend Joe Sacco’s Palestine. It’s a different style of graphic novel with a definite sense of the emotional weight a different side of history can have. Also readable in a day.

    1. The Rapp library didn’t have it, but they had another of his books, so I put it on hold. Thanks for the recommendation!

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