Denver Direct: THE DENVER HISTORY INDEX by Phil Goodstein

Monday, September 2, 2013


Phil Goodstein.  The Denver History Index.  Denver:  New Social Publications, 2013.  vi + 444 pp.  ISBN 0–9742264–8–3.  $29.95.  illustrations, index. 
The Denver History Index is the ultimate book on the Mile High City’s past.  It is a listing of the terms, people, themes, and events which have made Denver what it is from the founding of the community during the Pikes Peak gold rush in 1858–59 into the 21st century.  The volume provides an instant source of reference about such key issues as the Sand Creek Massacre, the impact of the Ku Klux Klan, the city beautiful policies of Mayor Robert Speer, and the campaign for the 1976 Winter Olympics.  The reader can also learn about how such traumatic national events as World War II and the Panic of 1893 have impacted the Queen City of Mountain and Plain. 
This is but the beginning of the numerous layers of this rich reference work.  While ostensibly it is nothing more than a compilation of the indexes of the many volumes of Denver’s foremost historian, Phil Goodstein, it is something of a barometer of community passions and aspirations.  More than that, it includes a fascinating introductory chapter, “The Quest for an Alternative Denver,” in which Goodstein discusses how he became involved in probing all aspects of the Mile High City.  The essay tells how his books were written and received. 
Though there is undoubtedly an element of ego in The Denver History Index, it also is a place where Goodstein confesses the many mistakes he has made in writing about the city.  He points to the various errors which have plagued his volumes.  Additionally, he tells how he came to issue The Naysayer, a monthly two-page sheet giving a dissident view of contemporary Mile High developments.  A chapter outlining that publication is a reflection of the hopes and turmoils which have been at the center of Denver and Colorado since the mid-1980s.  There is nothing comparable to it is in print. 
Finally, The Denver History Index contains a street index.  This not only provides a reference to the origins of street names, but indicates where a student can go for more discussions about the ups and downs of Colfax, Broadway, Federal Boulevard, and the highways cutting through the community.  That chapter further pinpoints specific locations where crucial events have occurred.  In a word, it and The Denver History Index as a whole reflect Goodstein’s overall writings in providing information about what had made Denver what it is and how residents can work to assure the destiny of their community. 
For more information, contact Goodstein at 303-333–1095, or see his Web page at  Information on his books is also at