The Complete Maus
(25th Anniversary Edition)
By Art Spiegelman
Published by Pantheon Books
Copyright © 2011
Review by Anthony Kendrick
So, many people believe that graphic novels and comic books aren’t real literature, and that at most they are a low form of art and entertainment. Those people have not read “MAUS”. I have finally read this much acclaimed graphic novel and I found it to be one the most compelling and absorbing true stories of the Holocaust that I have ever read.
Maus tells the biographical and autobiographical story of Vladek, Anja, and Art Spiegelman. Vladek and Anja were Jews who lived in Poland at the beginning of World War II and they saw the horrors of German treatment of Jews throughout German occupied Europe. Against all odds they lived to tell the tale. Art is Vladek’s and Anja’s son and in addition to his parent’s story he shows and describes a little of how his parent’s ordeal effected his life and choices. What really makes this story unique is how the story is told graphically. The stark black and white drawings work perfectly with the equally blunt and depressing subject matter. Also you won’t ever forget who is who as each person is characterized as an animal based on their nationality; which is why the book is called Maus, because our main characters are Jewish and are portrayed as mice. These characterizations have connections to historic propaganda.
I found this book riveting for its honesty and accessibility. Using this artistic form really opens up the holocaust to people who otherwise wouldn’t read a book about the subject. He also portrays it in such a way that you still feel the gravity of the event without being overcome by it. This is the perfect book to engage students (and adults alike) in the history of the holocaust. This is a five star book!