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The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

4.10  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,243 Ratings  ·  128 Reviews
Set in Mexico during the revolution, THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE is a story of danger and adventure, mystery and intrigue. It is the tale of three Americans and their search for gold in the rugged Sierra Madres.

Our literature is replete with the romance of riches for free. But in THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE the litany of desire reveals itself in an unusual and e

Published April 1st 1968 by Signet (first published 1927)
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Jan 21, 2010 brian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hal Croves, agent to novelist B. Traven, visited the set of his client's film the treasure of the sierra madre. croves had a german accent. he aroused the suspicion of many people, including director john huston. croves swiftly disappeared only to resurface in the 1950s in mexico city. upon his death in 1969 it was discovered that no record of birth for Hal Croves ever existed.

Ret Marut was involved in leftist politics in germany in the 1920s. he was the editor of the radical magazine der ziege
The author of this book, B. Traven, is a mystery man but his novels are some of the best moral adventure tales that I have ever read. Treasure of the Sierra Madre is his best known novel, probably due to the film version directed by John Huston and starring Humphrey Bogart. In it three Americans down on their luck prospect for gold in the Mexican Sierra Madre. A genuinely exciting adventure tale, it is also a psychological novel that takes us through the disintegration of one of the three, Dobbs ...more
Jul 25, 2009 Rick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Traven’s classic novel, which became a classic movie, about greed, gold, and violence in the Mexican wilderness, is a thoughtful, entertaining morality tale. The movie followed Traven’s plot and dialogue pretty closely, except for some variation in the ending where the film collapses scenes for economy sake, and for a couple of long, but entertaining mining yarns told by Howard, the grizzled prospecting veteran. So if you have seen the movie, you know not only the plot and ending but you can see ...more
Ned Mozier
Oct 11, 2014 Ned Mozier rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Written in the 30's, this story provides intricate details about the adventures of the poor scrapping men trying to find work in Mexico. It is about Spanish and American imperialism, the power of capitalism, the despoiling of the environment (yet another oil boom), religious elitism and power mongering and (mostly) the omnipresent greed in the heart of every man. Three men seek their fortune in gold, finding that it is a chore and there are unimagined perils. An old man (grey in the beard) keeps ...more
John Hood
Jun 13, 2010 John Hood rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Bound: SunPost Weekly June 3, 2010
When Badass Books Become Kickass Flicks

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
(Farrar Straus Giroux $16)
At first glance this tale may seem less pulpy than the above, but its heart consists wholly of the stuff pulp lives are made of. To wit: losers still looking to win despite lives filled with nothing but loss – and not a damn chance in hell they’ll succeed.

If you’ve seen John Huston’s 1948 adaptation of B. Traven’s desolate 1927 classic, you’ll kno
Raegan Butcher
Feb 01, 2014 Raegan Butcher rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent adventure tale from the mysterious B. Traven. This book can really give you a taste of being down and out in a hot, dusty foreign country.

Brilliant, radical, underrated, economically written in every sense of the word. I'm a big fan of the movie and I enjoyed the book even more, which is something I'm not necessarily always prone to do.

Powerfully captures the madness and paranoia inherent in the lust for riches, particularly when this takes place amid some hardscrabble vagabonds who don't really have much of a choice in the matter.

And the still-mysterious origins of the author (exiled German anarchist? Mexican scribbler? Moonlig
Jan 29, 2013 Kathleen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I’m very fond of the movie it inspired, so expected to enjoy this book. I did not. In my opinion the book is actually inferior to the film version. The writing is very uneven--some of it is downright atrocious. I’m not saying the book is without merit, but I approached it with expectations that were too high.

The story as it unfolds here is much darker than it was in the movie. The backdrop is Mexico, whose native population has been exploited for hundreds of years by the Catholic church, only t
Ruthie Jones
Oct 25, 2014 Ruthie Jones rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library-book
I find this story (both the book and the movie) truly horrifying in that it explores the depths of the human mind in terms of greed and conscience. These traits are expressed explicitly through Dobbs. The horror really begins torward the end with the chapter that starts with "A night of horror began for Curtin. Not so for Dobbs." Scary!

Dobbs clearly goes off the deep end and pays a heavy price. Juxtaposed with the relatively loose honesty of Curtin and Howard, Dobbs's break with sanity is that m
j to the muthafuckin R
Nov 30, 2008 j to the muthafuckin R rated it it was amazing
I had kept hearing about how good of an author B. Traven was by many friends, and told of the mystery that surrounds the author - (no one knowing really who B. Traven is, or even if there is more than one author, what country the author originates from or anything else).
And then a friend of mine gave me a copy of this book, and I devoured it. (Not literally)
The story itself is exciting, a page turner, & like a Quentin Tarantino film - it has many layers of several different stories woven thr
Jan 15, 2015 Joanna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: movies
The story was interesting enough to keep me hooked despite the dense language. Every so often little gems of lines would pop through making me think David Sedaris had clearly written this story has an homage to westerns and that all the tales of this book being old were inside jokes I never got. But then, blatant racism would draw me back to the time when authors could only say 'funking' as not to be censored. These tid bits still leave puzzled and question the well written morals of this story. ...more
Todd Stockslager
Jun 04, 2015 Todd Stockslager rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Review title: That's the power of gold

Huey Lewis had a big 80s hit called the "Power of Love", and while I risk derisive laughter by admitting to remember this, I will also say it wasn't such a bad song as songs of that era go. Indeed, the power of love is a popular theme in all the arts. Perhaps a close second, and here an overwhelming winner, is the theme of the power of gold.

The title of B. Traven's one remembered book should sound familiar--it is a classic movie with Humphrey Bogart in the
Jan 04, 2016 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Say The Treasure of the Sierra Madre" and the probable response will be "Badges, we don't need no stinking badges!". I like the line, and after reading the above book, bought and saw the 1948 movie by John Huston again. The guilty pleasure was there, waiting for that line.

Traven wrote the book in 1934 and it definitely is not PC in many respects. He was a political person of extreme views who may even have been a terrorist. He kept his background purposely obscure, but he did live for extended p
Mar 05, 2014 Larry rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 11, 2013 Aaron rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is an underrated masterpiece. It's the basis for the classic John Huston movie of the same name ("We don't need no badges! I don't have to show you any stinkin' badges!"). Nobody seems to know who or what a "B. Traven" is, but he produced a compelling and beautifully written novel. As one of the Mexican bandits in the story might say, read it you goddamned cabrón and chinga tu madre!
Here's a rare case where the film has improved on the novel.

While I enjoyed the story, I found the frequent insertion of the author's political point of view to be a bit irritating. Yes, greed is bad, and the workers of the world have really been trampled by the business owners, I get it. Just a few of these added statements would have been fine, but there are just too many of them. Also the frequent asides by some of the characters, where long meandering stories about other people in similar s
Dec 06, 2015 Alex rated it really liked it

A pretty fun read, but having been a fan of the movie for so long, I finished it more out of curiosity. Goes to show what a masterful job Huston did with tightening up the story. I think the main shortcoming of the book is that the characters of Dobbs and Curtin are drawn indistinctly, but the movie, well, it has Bogart, in what I think is his best role, to do all the distinctifyin'. Highlights of the book include the back story of the bandits and Howard's campfire story about Doña Maria.

Gold is
Florin Andrei
Feb 12, 2014 Florin Andrei rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book came, un-ordered, with an Amazon delivery. It was billed, so instead of getting a refund for it, I decided to read it. That it was made into a classic film, which I still have not seen, helped.

I'm glad I kept the book. It was fun to read and had more to it than I would expect from a Western story. Although the language, and especially the dialogue, was wooden at times, it was fascinating how Traven illustrated ideas of life within and without society.
Jun 30, 2011 Pierre rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Bollocks. Traven, you are one of the few people in history who has managed to write a book duller than the (quite good) film upon which it was based.
Doctor Edward Diesel
"Gold does things to man's mind..."
Jun 22, 2007 Russell rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Oct 22, 2015 Becky rated it really liked it
Shelves: rgc-2015
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Miguel Soto
May 02, 2012 Miguel Soto rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
¿Qué maldición tiene el oro que le hace tan atractivo y le vuelve tan peligroso? ¿Qué hay en él que hace que el hombre se vuelva loco en su búsqueda? Dos cosas son seguras: algo tiene el oro que provoca asesinatos, robos y demás crímenes; el oro por sí mismo no vale nada, para que valga hay que llevarlo a donde se le asigne valor.

B. Traven (el misterioso, ¿quién sería?), nos lleva a través de México con sus personajes habituales, los gringos en México y los indios, a enterarnos de aquellos dos h
May 29, 2011 Vasha7 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An uncommon sort of adventure story.

At times, Traven's journalistic roots show, when he seems more interested in depicting the setting of the story and its social conditions than in moving the "plot" along. For instance, in the first chapter, he spends 13 pages describing the Hotel Oso Negro in far more detail than is necessary for the few brief scenes set there. Traven knew the places and people in this story from first-hand experience. It was a wise choice for him to write a novel, even if he
Lawrence FitzGerald
May 17, 2012 Lawrence FitzGerald rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1920-s, literary
I have a soft spot for Traven.

I cannot tell you if he is a socialist or a communist or something else. He does lean to the left, but he's subtle. He's not your typical strident propagandist SHOUTING at his audience. He takes his time; he tells an entertaining tale or two and then he lets you draw your own conclusions.

He writes in a good third person voice, something that is not easily done.

In first person, you're sitting in a quiet bar listening to someone tell you his story, what happened to h
Clark Hays
Nov 27, 2011 Clark Hays rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mirroring the subject matter, the search for gold, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre is a glittering masterpiece appropriately hidden under the dust of history and shifting literary layers filled with nuggets of brilliance that flash and then recede.

One layer is the landscape of the Sierra Madre mountains and he does an admirable job of capturing the physical characteristics of this remote, forbidden area to the extent a glass of cold water helps ease the reading.

Another layer is of Mexico itself
Sep 16, 2011 Liam rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: cohen brothers fans
Recommended to Liam by: 2666 fans (w/r/t Archimboli)
A fantastic little story about American workers in 1920s Mexico, attempting to find their fortune whilst feverishly guarding their secret accumulation of wealth from sadistic, roaming bandits. Mexico in this novel is a place where working people are thrown about from poor paying job to poor paying job, with no place to live in except camps and hotels, and where the only cheer is found in retelling stories of glorious hidden riches. It's funny, gritty (for its time), humane and gripping.

Jun 10, 2009 Marni rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A book club choice, not a thrift shop find. Not an easy read, I thought it was monotonous,but not meaning boring, but meaning monotone, it was written in such a way that even the most sensational events seemed parched. There was no emotion in this book. I do think that maybe this was done in an effort to match the harshness of the landscape he wrote about, but I would have to read more of his books to test this theory, and I am pretty sure that I don't want to.

One of my book gorup memeber just
Apr 03, 2015 Jim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Not bad, but the truly exciting parts were weaker than I had expected or hoped for. The book has a good reputation. I started skim-reading after a while, which is not a good sign, as long sections lost my interest. Basically the story is about three American prospectors (a cagey old veteran and two neophytes), who search for an abandoned mine and scratch out a decent haul of gold. Work and life is hard in the backcounty, and the old guy keeps them from making too many really bad mistakes. They a ...more
Oct 01, 2011 Rachel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, classics
A morality tale about two indolent Americans eking out an existence in Mexico by begging and the occasional oil refinery job, who team up with an old prospector to mine for gold in the mountains. I've heard this book described as "deeply ironic," which I can't really go along with considering that everything you expect would happen -- greed, paranoia, and violence -- eventually does happen. I originally read this book when I was 15 and it was assigned in my high school Spanish class, though pres ...more
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B. Traven (February, 1882? – March 26, 1969?) was the pen name of a German novelist, whose real name, nationality, date and place of birth and details of biography are all subject to dispute. A rare certainty is that B. Traven lived much of his life in Mexico, where the majority of his fiction is also set—including his best-known work, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1927), which was adapted as ...more
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“Anyone who is willing to work and is serious about it will certainly find a job. Only you must not go to the man who tells you this, for he has no job to offer and doesn't know anyone who knows of a vacancy. This is exactly the reason why he gives you such generous advice, out of brotherly love, and to demonstrate how little he knows the world.” 23 likes
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