Full of hard-earned humor and pathos, Maus(I and II) takes your breath away with its stunning visual style, reminding us...

MAUS: A SURVIVOR'S TALE

VOL. II, AND HERE MY TROUBLES BEGAN

Together with the much-acclaimed first volume of Spiegelman's Maus(1987—not reviewed), this unusual Holocaust tale will forever alter the way serious readers think of graphic narratives (i.e., comic books).

For his unforgettable combination of words and pictures, Spiegelman draws from high and low culture, and blends autobiography with the story of his father's survival of the concentration camps. In funny-book fashion, the all-too-real characters here have the heads of animals—the Jews are mice, the Nazis are rats, and the Poles are pigs—a stark Orwellian metaphor for dehumanized relations during WWII. Much of Spiegelman's narrative concerns his own struggle to coax his difficult father into remembering a past he'd rather forget. What emerges in father Vladek's tale is a study in survival; he makes it through by luck, randomness, and cleverness. Physically strong, he bluffs his way through the camps as a tinsmith and a shoemaker, and also exploits his ability with languages. Every day in Auschwitz, and later in Dachau, demands new bribes and masterly bartering. All of this helps explain Vladek's art of survival in the present: his cheap, miserly behavior; his disappointment over Spiegelman's marriage to a non-Jew; his constant criticism of his own second wife and his son; and even his inexcusable racism. Haunted by the brother who died in the camps, Spiegelman (born in postwar Sweden) also mourns his mother, who survived only to commit suicide in the late 60's. Within the time span of the writing of Maus(1978-91), Vladek died, and Spiegelman now must sort out his complex feelings as he reflects on the success of the first volume—a success built on the tragedy of the Holocaust. With all his doubts, Spiegelman pushes on, realizing that his book deserves a place in the ongoing struggle between memory and forgetting.

Full of hard-earned humor and pathos, Maus(I and II) takes your breath away with its stunning visual style, reminding us that while we can never forget the Holocaust, we may need new ways to remember.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1991

ISBN: 0-394-55655-0

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Pantheon

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1991

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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