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Government

(Jungle Novels #1)

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  196 ratings  ·  22 reviews
In the 1930s B. Traven wrote an epic of the birth of the Mexican revolution in what have become known as the "Jungle Novels." Government is the first of the six novels that comprise the series.

Depicting the political corruption that infected even the smallest villages in Mexico, the novel tells the story of Don Gabriel, a minor government functionary who has a virtual
...more
Paperback, 229 pages
Published September 1st 1993 by Ivan R. Dee (first published 1931)
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 ·  196 ratings  ·  22 reviews


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Troy
I've read a string of fantastic books lately. This is another.

You may have heard of B. Traven 1) because of his amazing and mysterious life story, of which no one knows much of anything, 2) his book The Treasures of the Sierra Madre which was made into a great movie by John Huston, or 3) that the author is the model for Benno von Archimboldi, the mysterious writer from Roberto Bolaño's 2666 (no one knows who B. Traven is, he has committed scholars dedicated to his work, he is most likely
...more
Sheri Lutz
Jan 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
Written in the 20's, Traven describes the peonage and debt slavery that were common under the rule of Porfirio Diaz. The first of 6 "Jungle Novels" shows Indians of Mexico being enslaved to advance commerce. This description could have been written a century later: "You cannot have cheap mahogany and at the same time...respect for the humanity of the Indian. The civilization of the present day cannot run to both, because competition, the idol of our civilization, cannot tolerate it.". A bit ...more
Daniel
Dec 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Don Gabriel is a politician, one among many of the same.

He does as much as he can to make as much money as he can in as little time as he can, with no regard for literally any other principle. There is nothing he does for anyone else at any point that doesn't make their lives worse and make him richer. Every despicable person he meets, he marvels at their ruthlessness and their ability to grift, and shortly afterwards absorbs their misanthropy and greed and finds new ways to wring money out of
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M.R. Dowsing
Nov 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The sort of book that shouldn't work, but does. The main character, Don Gabriel, is a corrupt official in an isolated government outpost and has few, if any, redeeming features. At one point, Traven abandons him entirely before bringing him back in after a lengthy diversion. The many methods used by Don Gabriel and his colleagues to exploit the Indians for commercial gain are portrayed with a level of detail which is entirely convincing and an extraordinary feat for a non-native writer. Traven ...more
Matt
Jun 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: literature
This novel is a masterclass in kleptocracy.

A fascinating look at the political corruption in Mexico leading up to the Mexican Revolution, Traven is all the more effective and affecting because his style is so spare and matter of fact, presenting the corruption in large part through the perspective of a corrupt official, with occasional forays into the experience and views of the oppressed native population.
Raghu Parthasarathy
Nov 17, 2019 rated it liked it
A very blunt novel about the mistreatment and de facto enslavement of Indians in Mexico, some time in the late 1800s or early 1900s. The first half is almost unbearably earnest, didactic, and plot-free – one feels that one should continue reading solely to be educated about the horrible injustices it reports, but it’s really not good as a novel. The second half is better, as some characters and a bit of a plot emerge.
Yaseen Hashim
Oct 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
B.Traven books once opened you can't stop until you are in the last page
Rallie
Sep 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
As always, B. Traven's wry wit doesn't fail to deliver. I highly recommend this book, and to follow it up with Rebellion of the Hanged.
Jim
Dec 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Grim and very straightforward, my introduction to the darkness of the Porfiriato,

...in fact, every tenth man in every nation is capable of governing. There is nothing mysterious about it. It is much more difficult to construct a machine which will work than to rule a people where the machinery is already there and in going order. The art of government is only made out to be mysterious in order to frighten revolutionaries and to prevent the simple subject from knowing how little capacity and
...more
Noah
Sep 30, 2012 rated it liked it

After reading 'Treasure on the Sierra Madre', 'The White Rose', and 'The Death Ship', I naturally had to dig in to B. Traven's acclaimed jungle novels, and per usual, I was very pleased.

'Government' chronicles the roots of the Mexican revolution at the turn of the 20th century. It's a very quick, cut and dry story that almost feels like a civics book, but with very interesting, nuanced characters set in the rural villages of Chiapas. Like 'The White Rose', Traven uses the Native Indians of
...more
Ron Lamb
Apr 25, 2008 rated it really liked it
I first read the mysterious B Traven, best known as the author of Treasure of the Sierra Madre, back in the early 70s when someone exchanged a copy of his Death Ship for some book I had just finished, while I was backpacking through Europe and North Africa. What a strange and wonderful book. While planning an upcoming trip to Mexico, I came across his name again in relation to his "jungle novels," a six-book series set in pre-revolutionary southern Mexico. A perfect precursor to visiting ...more
James
Nov 19, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: latin-american
This novel continues the caoba (mahogany) cycle of novels that began with The Carreta. It presents an attack on a "Utopian" system of government that feeds on the poor and presents an indictment of a world that allows--and calls for--slavery. The realistic, almost pedantic, description of the governmental system impedes the appreciation of Traven's aim in this critical novel of ideas. The contradiction of the system is best expressed by the statement: "Either we have cheap mahogany, or we have ...more
Aron
Jul 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Best book I've read in a great long while. I feel that life (or our public education system) has cheated me considering I hadn't heard of this book until the age of 38. The thanks goes to my father who recommend I start reading B. Traven. Can't wait to read the second book in this series called The Jungle Novels.
Ofelia Hunt
May 19, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: people
Government is the perfect novel. Funny and depressing. I like Government. I like that B. Traven's name is B. This book is sarcastic and illustrates people and goverments and systems and other things but it is also a novel with characters.

Thank you.
RA
The great Jungle Novel series!!
Bimbo
Apr 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Čistih in popolnih 5 zvezdic. Kaj naj rečem, to knjigo je preprosto treba prebrati. Še zlasti v teh časih in v teh krajih. Kar je Vladar za oblastiželjne, je Oblast za obvladovane.
Leonard Pierce
May 11, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
The first of B. Traven's incredibly ambitious Jungle novels really gets things off with a bang. Highly recommended if you're willing to invest the time.
Talya
Jan 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
Iluminador.
David Mcelroy
Apr 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Reveals the dangers of a central government with no rule of law and the enduring nature of a limited government with citizen leaders that serve a limited term.
Owen
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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

Other books in the series

Jungle Novels (6 books)
  • The Carreta
  • March to the Monteria
  • Trozas
  • The Rebellion of the Hanged
  • General from the Jungle
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