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  • Writer's pictureCraig Silverman

Episode 159 - Alan Prendergast - author of Gangbuster

Denver DA Plilip Van Cise was a great man for his times. He stood up to organized crime in Denver when host’s grandfather Harry Silverman was trying to practice law downtown. Van Cise also fought the KKK. The stories of those epic fights are told masterfully in the book, Gangbuster, by Alan Prendergast.

Prendergast is an award-winning Colorado writing legend, renowned for his coverage of JonBenet, Columbine, and almost every major crime drama in modern Colorado history. A Denver native, and graduate of Denver East High (like Phil Van Cise). Prendergast makes the turn of the last century Denver come alive.

A CU Buff, Phil Van Cise got his undergraduate (1907) and law degree (1909) up in Boulder, where his father was an instructor, and also a Colorado attorney. The Ludlow Massacre of 1914 shaped Captain Van Cise. Rising to rank of colonel, Denver’s future DA further served as a US Army intelligence officer in WWI.

Van Cise also experienced the violent Denver Tramway Streetcar strike of 1920. He knew Denver was becoming a crime rich environment and he decided to make a longshot run for Denver DA to try to stop it. Success followed success, but it was against all odds. Colonel Van Cise changed Denver forever. And for the better.

Alan Prendergast is a brilliant storyteller, and instructs undergraduates at Colorado College, teaching Journalism at his alma mater. Once you buy Prendergast’s historically accurate page-turner, you’ll want to go visit amazing Denver sites where the action all happened like 16th Street, the Auditorium Arena, and the West Side Court Building at Speer and Colfax.

Denver needed a hero in 1920 when her cops were crooked and bigotries ran wild. Denver was renowned as a town where almost anything went, so long as Lou Blonger, the top organized crime boss, approved, and got his cut. Aside and apart were the bigots who brought the KKK around the USA and found a great Denver asset in Dr. John Galen Locke.

Blonger and Locke are formidable but as we know, because Denver went on to prosper, Van Cise brought both of these authoritarian crime bosses to justice. America can learn a lot by studying how Colorado and Van Cise fought back one hundred years ago against authoritarianism and nationalism.

Gangbuster: One Man’s Battle Against Crime, Corruption, and the Klan is a Best Book for 2023. It's not just highly entertaining. It’s educational and full of suspense. We learn the way for civilized societies to fight back when democracy is threatened by White Christian Nationalists and criminal types. Buy Gangbuster here.

We need Jack Smith to succeed like Colonel Phil Van Cise. Both have the courage of their convictions, and allegiance to the rule of law. Van Cise served one of the most crime busting single terms in the rich history of the Denver District Attorney’s Office where the show host worked 1980 - 1996, including with Assistant DA O. Otto Moore, who worked with Van Cise.

Prendergast and host reminisce about many Colorado cases including JonBenet. Prendergast rips former Boulder DA Mary Lacy for her fake exoneration of Ramseys. The DNA is a false clue, proclaims Prendergast. Also discussed is disgraced Ramsey lawyer Lin (MAGA) Wood, and Peter Boyles who made a big name covering JonBenet and birtherism on Denver radio.

Birtherism propelled Trump to be GOP nominee and then President in 2016. Trump lost in 2020, but as chronicled on past episodes of this podcast, 45’s #BigLie grew out of Colorado. Joe Oltmann appeared with Boyles on 710 KNUS and Jenna Ellis appeared on Dan Caplis on 630 KHOW to cry Stop the Steal. Now, Jack Smith and other lawyers are making things clear.

Boyles and Silverman used to do Friday mornings together on KHOW and KNUS. On this podcast, they once again share an hour discussing current events in Colorado and elsewhere. Boyles also hosts GOP stalwart Dick Wadhams and discussed are Jack Smith closing in on 45, and whether Rudy G will flip.

Boyles highlights apparent MAGA defection by broadcaster Steve Deace, an Iowa White Christian Nationalist, but is contradicted by contention Rudy not about to rat on Trump, and that Deace defection to DeSantis is only mildly interesting.

By his own current admission, Boyles, age 80, agrees to be muzzled from discussing Big Lie since 710 KNUS and Salem are being sued. Even though Boyles can’t talk about Corporon, there are no such limitations here as we explain the Corporon/GOP/Kraken/Oltmann/Trump/Salem/MAGA/Boyles entanglements.

World Gone Crazy is a hit single by our Troubadour Dave Gunders. Talk radio has become a hateful cesspool in the age of Trump and this show considers Denver’s contributions in that regard. VanCise kept speaking out long after he left the DA’s Office. So will we.

Phil Van Cise was a great Colo. attorney. He had integrity &honor. Ep. 159 salutes Van Cise and this wonderful book, Gangbuster, about his amazing life. Author Alan Prendergast has penned a true Colorado classic, and easily one of the best books of 2023.

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