Maus I & Maus II by Art Spiegelman

Title: Maus I My Father Bleeds History
Author: Art Spiegelman
Pub Date: August 1986
Pages: 160

Title: Maus II And Here My Troubles Begin
Author: Art Spiegelman
Pub Date: September 1992
Pages: 144
Genre: Graphic Novel, Memoir(esque?)
Rating: 5/5 (for both)


Maus I & II are graphic novels that explore the Holocaust experience through not just a survivor, but the survivor’s family. Art Spiegelman has always had a strained relationship with his father, Vladek, which was only exacerbated by the suicide of his mother, Anna. Knowing that his father was getting older and becoming weak and ill, Art realizes that he has little opportunity left to fully discover the stories of his parents experience in Auschwitz. He shares with us the process of the interviewing endeavor and what it meant to him, while engaging the audience in the tale of Vladek, how life seemed perfect in one moment, and the next more horrifying than imaginable.

My Thoughts

What’s unique about these graphic novels is the type of narration. Spiegelman moves between the past and the present, his relationship with his dad and his dad’s relationship with history. All of this is done seamlessly and evokes strong emotions for all parties involved. I found myself getting angry at Spiegelman and his annoyance with his father, but only because I remembered my own irritation with my grandmother, who recently died.

Now you see, the stories are quite different. My grandmother lived in East Germany during WW2, but was never in the camps. Instead, she was one of nine young German children, completely oblivious to the destruction that Hitler was causing. In order to help her poor family out, she moved away from their farm and worked many jobs – including cleaning homes of the German soldiers. My grandmother and I never really saw eye to eye on many issues, and in all honesty, she was one of the most difficult people I’ve ever known. Vladek reminded me so much of my grandmother on many different levels that it saddened me. It made me wish that I kept a journal of the stories that she shared with me: losing her first baby during the war, dealing with her first husband, a German soldier, who ran off to be with a Russian woman, meeting and falling in love with an American soldier (my popa), moving to the states and living on air force bases even though many despised her because she was German. All those stories that are barely lingering in my mind.

I know that I digressed from my thoughts about the story, but you see, that’s why Maus I & II became so special to me. It allowed me to remember a woman that I didn’t necessarily like, but still loved, which I believe to be the hardest relationships to have and accept.


  1. Oddly, I only read Maus II and like you I enjoyed the changing time frames. Thanks for the reviews and personal thoughts.

  2. I too have read both, and used them in my classes when I taught about the Holocaust. The students always enjoyed reading it and it led to some awesome discussions.

  3. Susan - Spiegelman is really talented, isn't he? It makes me realize how quickly we're going to be without the holocaust stories.

    Joan..I mean Jones (LOL) I bet the kids loved it. Before this year I was such a snob with graphic novels. Now, having taken the time to read them, I am going to incorporate them into my curriculum. Who knows, maybe I'll let the kids read their manga books for next years DEAR?!

  4. Lovely review, Christina. Thank you for sharing with us the reason why the book touched you on such a personal level.

  5. Great review. I love hearing about personal connections to books. Sorry it's taken me so long, but I've posted an excerpt here on War Through the Generations.

    Just to clarify, do you want your blog called "Book Notes" or "Reading Through the Night"? For some reason, I have you listed as "Book Notes."

    Diary of an Eccentric


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