Traven’s Works have been published in at least 40 languages and have been read for decades, all over the world

The Cotton Pickers

<Young Gerald Gales, ex-sailor, seeks work in booming Mexico of the early nineteen-twenties. Work is the theme, and as usual Traven is comprehensive about the nature of work, leaving no doubt as to his personal knowledge of it. Though hunger and vagabond hardship are present, the book is exuberant with life…But there is also death, oppression, exploitation, strike and union maneuvers, and all the ways to find all kinds of work; for the confident, canny young hero is an instant expert in any branch of labor…So he picks cotton, runs an oil rig, learns much of the baker’s trade, examines the famous Tampico bordello district, outwits a roulette wheel and hires out as a cowboy>

Die Baumwollpflücker was first serialized in Vorwärts in June and July 1925. The book Der Wobbly was published by Buchmeister Verlag, in Berlin, 1926. The first edition in English appeared until 1956.

The Death Ship. The Story of an American Sailor

<This is the protest of an unknown sailor who was deprived of passport and citizenship: “The song of the real and genuine hero of the sea has never yet been sung,” says the young hero Gerald Gales; and so he sings it. He sings it in the abrupt slang of the self educated worker, in the bitter but sardonic language of life…Traven regards national and international bureaucracy as the archenemy of individual freedom.>

It was originally written in English in 1923 or 1924, translated into German by B. Traven himself and first published as Das Totenschiff.Die Geschichte eines amerikanischen Seemanns in German, in Berlin, by Büchergilde Gutenberg,  1926. The first edition in Spanish appeared in 1931 and in English in 1934.

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

<Renowned as one of the best adventure stories of our times, it has also been assessed by some critics as a fine psychological study of man’s greed for gold…>

An American film classic was produced from this book, directed by John Houston,  starring Humphrey Bogart, Walter Houston and Tim Holt.

First edition as Der Schatz der Sierra Madre in Berlin, by Büchergilde Gutenberg in  1927. The first edition in English in 1934 by Chatto & Windus, and in 1935 the American edition translated by B. Traven published by Knopf.

The Bridge in the Jungle

<Gerard Gales is hunting alligators when he visits a rough American acquaintance at a jungle bridge crossing. In the tragedy that takes place there, the young outsider very casually but graphically touches on the important differences between Indian and Christian cultures. The book is basically a pantheistic ode to the death of a child; it closes with perhaps the most weird but kindly funeral in literature. The story has balance and a bizarre beauty unique in common-man literature.>

Die Brücke im Dschungel was originally written as a short story, serialized in Vorwärts in 1927. The first long version was published by Büchergilde Gutenberg in 1929. The first edition in English is a translation by B. Traven, published by Knopf in 1938.

The White Rose

<Traven called this novel a “document”, for it is based on an actual hacienda stolen from its ancestral Indian owners by ruthless American oil exploiters. It is Traven’s largest and most various novel; and it is an epic novel of the two Americas, the brown and the white, on both sides of the border… Traven’s use of specific persons, incidents, and his untiring passion to depict the race of man, results in a powerful and memorable novel. It hit both the USA and Mexico where it hurts: in the oil pockets.>

After deleting the first two chapters of Traven’s manuscript, Büchergilde Gutenberg published Die Weisse Rose for the first time in 1929. The first British edition was translated by B. Traven himself and published by Robert Hale until 1965, the first American edition published until 1979.

The Carreta

<The six novels known as the Jungle, or the Mahogany Series, comprise a large and comprehensive history of the peons, carters, loggers and forced laborers of southeast Mexico in the early days of the last century.  Though the novels are whole, giving due attention to the white oppressors, the emphasis is on the lowly Indians in their normal life, in their submission to oppression, and in their successful revolt against white owners. But this first novel of the series is a memorable picture of covered-wagon days. The young heroes Andres and Manuel later figure in the jungle revolution; and the heroine Estrellita is an illiterate Indian girl who tells Andrés the Indian legend of the sun’s creation.>

The first of the six titles known as the Jungle, or the Mahogany Series was Der Karren, later called Die Carreta was published by Büchergilde Gutenberg in 1931. (It appeared on the Nazi’s first blacklist of undesirable authors in 1933, and one of the three Traven novels ordered to be confiscated “for the protection of the people and the state”)


<Though Government has all the elements of a sociological study in depth, it still succeeds in being an exciting narrative of an Indian locality which white rulers fail to govern, or even to understand. Hitler’s regime, noting Traven’s angry digressions on government dictarors, renewed the Third Reich ban on all Traven Books.>

The second of the Mahogany series was first published as Regierung, in Berlin, by Büchergilde Gutenberg in 1931. The first English edition appeared in 1935.

The March to the Monteria

<Mexican Indians in the time of Porfirio Díaz were hired, bartered, framed, or kidnapped and then marched under armed guard to the dreaded labor camps or monterias of the mahogany industry. Few of the forced laborers returned alive from those camps, which were more brutal than those of their contemporary Siberia. This powerful novel depicts the “hiring” and the forced march.>

Der March ins Reich der Caoba is the third of the Mahogany series, published in 1933 by the new Büchergilde Gutenberg in Zurich, after the Nazis took over the Berlin Press. The first British edition in 1961, March to Caobalan, is an English version by Traven.

The Creation of the Sun and the Moon

<Told to Traven by Tseltal Indian folksayers, this is the ancient legend of the creation of sun and moon, and the origin of rabbit Tul’s place in Mexican folklore.>

It was first published in Czech as O Cloveku Ktery Stvoril Slunce by F.J Muller in 1934. The first edition in German by Büchergilde Gutenberg was in 1936 and the first edition in English by Hill and Wang in 1968.


<Mahogany logs, or trozas, are obtained at heavy cost of human life in the steaming jungles. Most of the “contracted” peons are shanghaied or framed into going into the lumber camps, from where they have one chance in four of returning alive. The precious lumber enriches the concessionaires, but the workers come cheap, they labor under armed guard, and are treated as living trozas, to be dumped into the river when their usefulness comes to an end. The surviving woodcutters, who appear in other jungle novels of this series, are common heroes whose lives and dreams clearly explain the jungle revolution that is their only salvation.>

The fourth of the Mahogany series is Die Troza, published in Zurich by Büchergilde Gutenberg in 1936. It was unavailable in English until 1994, when Ivan R. Dee published it in Chicago, U.S.A.

The Rebellion of the Hanged

<In the monterías, the peons were hung alive by their four members (and sometimes five) in the trees as punishment for failing to fell and trim four tons of mahogany logs each day. Under such treatment, and in face of the eighty-per-cent death rate in the camps, the peons rebelled, over-came their masters, burnt the camps, and began to march out of the jungle towards the capitals. Though they heard only rumors from the north, the Revolution was already breaking out in scattered points and would soon result in the overthrow of dictator Díaz.>

Published by Büchergilde Gutenberg in 1936, Die Rebellion der Gehenkten is the fifth of the Mahogany series, first published in English, in 1952, by Robert Hale.

The General from the Jungle

<This general is a youthful Chamula Indian who outwits the educated and well-trained generals of Porfirio Díaz. Liberating persecuted, enslaved Indians and leading a “mob” of men, women and children, the rebels move out of the jungle towards the towns. There is a succession of battles,  both in the fields and around the walls of fortified haciendas…More than being another fin novel of rebellion and guerrilla warfare, it is a satire on national armies, as well as a rebuke to warfare, no matter how just the cause.>

This last book of the Mahogany series was first published in 1939, in Swedish, by Axel Holmströms Förlag in Stockholm, as Djungelgeneralen. The first edition in German by Allert de Lange was published in 1940. The first version in English by Robert Hale appeared in 1954.


<Perhaps this little novella or Mexican fairy tale is Traven’s most perfect story, and it is certainly the epitome of his ability to immortalize the lowliest human in any forgotten village.>

It was originally written in English and entitled The Healer. It was first published in German by Büchergilde Gutenberg, Zurich, in 1950. The first English version appeared in 1953 in Fantastic magazine, reprinted in The Best American Short Stories of 1954.

Aslan Norval

<There are many strong women in Traven’s fiction, but Mrs. Aslan Norval of the midcentury times is the latest and largest heroine. As an American heiress contentedly married but swamped with proliferating fortunes, Aslan Norval finds herself tormented with the desire to do something epic, something no man has dared to do: she decides to build a canal across the continental United States. She forms an open corporation so that every wage earner may buy shares in the grand venture. A congressional Committee of investigators, prodded by vested interests, tries to stop the venture; but the ensuing publicity arouses the civic minded public, and “democratic process” insists that the canal be realized, and that it shall be a federal undertaking. Not only shall it relieve chronic unemployment and demobilize the Armed Forces, but it will benefit the Atlantic and Pacific fleets, aid world shipping, relieve the cold war, and solve the Berlin Question!>

Submitted in 1958, published in 1960, in Munich, by Desch, with its highly atypical subject matter; this novel was never translated into English or Spanish.

Short stories

Der Busch

First edition:  Buchergilde Gutemberg, 1928.
Stories contained:
Awakening the Dead  (Die Auferweckung eines Toten)
Indian Dance in the Jungle    (Indianertanz in der Dschungel)
The Birth of a God  also called A New God was Born   (Die Geburt eines Gottes)
The Story of a Bomb, also called Tin Can or Playing with Bombs (Die Geschichte einer Bombe)
The Dynamite Cartridge   (Die Dynamitpatrone)
The Social Institution    (Die Wohlfahrtseinrichtung)
The Sentry   (Der Wachtposten)
Family Honour    (Familienehre)
The Donkey's Purchase    (Der Eselskauf)
A Dog's Business, also called Local Arithmethic   ( Ein Hundegeschäft)
The Medicine    (Die Medizin)
The Night Visitor    (Der Nachtbefuch im Bufch)

Second edition:  Buchergilde Gutemberg, 1930.
Stories contained:
Awakening the Dead   (Die Auferweckung eines Toten)
Indian Dance in the Jungle   (Indianertanz in der Dschungel)
A New God was Born   (Die Geburt eines Gottes)
The Caught Lightning   (Der aufgefangene Blitz)
Accomplices    (Spießgesellen)
The Story of a Bomb, also called Tin Can or Playing with Bombs   (Die Geschichte einer Bombe)
The Dynamite Cartridge   (Die Dynamitpatrone)
The Social Institution   (Die Wohlfahrtseinrichtung)
The Sentry   (Der Wachtposten)
The Kidnapped Saint, also called The Emigrated Antonio   (Der ausgewanderte Antonio)
Family Honour   (Familienehre)
A Dog's Business, also called Local Arithmetic   (Ein Hundegeschäft)
The Donkey's Purchase    (Der Eselskauf)
The Diplomat   (Diplomaten)
Control   (Bändigung)
Assembly Line   (Der Grossindustrielle)
The Medicine   (Die Medizin)
The Bandit Doctor   (Der Banditendoktor)
The Conversion of the Indians   (Indianerbekehrung)
The Night Visitor  (Der Nachtbefuch im Bufch)

Other Short Stories by B. Traven:

An Unexpected Solution
Cart Wheel
Cattle Drive (taken from The Cotton Pickers)
Ceremony Slightly Delayed
Foreign Correspondent
Midnight Call
Sun Creation, also called The Creation of the Sun and the Moon
The Third Guest
When the Priest is not at Home

Short Stories by RET MARUT (1912 a  1919)
In the Freest  State in the World
To the Honorable Miss S
The Story of a Nun
The Silk Scarf
The Actor and the King
A Writer of Serpentine Shrewdness
The Blue-Speckeled Sparrow
The Art of the Painter
The Kind of things that can happen in France
Mother Beleke
In the Fog The Unknown Soldier  

Other Literary works:

Ret Marut, Der Ziegelbrenner de 1917 a 1921
Travel Book:
B. Traven, Land des Frühlings (The Land of Springtime), a travel book about Mexico, was never published in English. It was published in Berlin, by Büchergilde Gutenberg, in 1928 and contained 64 pages of pictures taken by B. Traven. It was published in Spanish until 1996, in México, by the Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes.
  Hal Croves & Rosa Elena Lujan, B. Traven‘s Totenschiff. Play in four acts, Zurich: Europa-Verlag 1955.

  Diverse Film and Theatre scripts by Hal Croves

  Diverse articles and essays by B. Traven and Hal Croves