This book is a graphic novel. It is written by Art Spiegelman as he interviews his Jewish father's experiences in Nazi Germany. The Jews are mice, the Germans are cats, and the Poles are pigs. The story is compelling, and is made less revolting, (If that is possible) by the de-humanizing, (pictorially) of the groups. It is an easy, quick read, but it will have great impact. For those who want to understand the holocaust and don't want to slog through some of the many long volumns out there...pick this one up.
You can tell that it was written by a man, because he has a map showing the major locations in Poland, as well as a map of part of New York, even though they aren't absolutely necessary. I would say that telling the story via cartoons gives a different perspective, although it isn't lighthearted at all.
Being one for historical facts, I don't particularly like "survivor tales" from the holocaust. I find that they tend to be very emotional, one-sided, and mushy, with distorted facts and perceptions. This book is not so; it is by far the most pointed, dis-associative recount of one man (Vladek Speigelman)'s journey through life during Hitler's reign.
Some things I wish I would have known prior to reading: this book is a graphic novel but it is entirely in black and white. The cover portrays a colored comic; I felt that the monochromatic scheme distracted from the story, and in a few instances the actions being pictured are hard to decipher.
Secondly, [SPOILER ALERT] this isn't the complete story, this is just basically Maus: Part 1. You have to purchase the follow up book to read what happens at the end of Vladek Speigelman's story. I'm sorry, but I found this to be a cheap cliffhanger, hence I deducted a star.
However, overall it is a very solid story, and I appreciate the injection of how Art (Vladek's son) attained the story from his father. The book does cover a huge range of Vladek's story, from 1938 to 1944, and also informs of what happens to all the other members of the Spiegelman family. Worth the read if you are a Holocaust/Hitler historian.