Blast Books is a New York-based book publisher[1] whose catalog consists of non-fiction books which focus on cultural and historical subjects, often of an obscure or unusual nature. Many of their publications include archival illustrations and photography.

Blast Books
Blast Books company logo.jpg
Founded1989 (1989)
FoundersLaura Lindgren and Ken Swezey
Country of originUnited States
Headquarters locationNew York, New York
DistributionPublishers Group West
Publication typesNon-fiction books
Nonfiction topicsCulture, social history, medical history, landscape, language, photography

Blast has published titles by John Strausbaugh, Drew Friedman, Suehiro Maruo, Hideshi Hino, James Edmonson,[2] John Harley Warner,[3] Ken Smith, Arne Svenson, Steve Young, Gretchen Worden, Teller, and others.

Selected publicationsEdit

Blast has published two large-format photographic books about the Mütter Museum. The first, Mütter Museum of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia (2002), contains images of the museum's exhibits shot by contemporary fine art photographers, including William Wegman, Joel-Peter Witkin, Shelby Lee Adams, and Rosamond Purcell. The second, Mütter Museum Historic Medical Photographs (2007), focuses on the museum's archive of rare historic photographs, most of which were previously unpublished.

Hidden Treasure (2012) was published in conjunction with the National Library of Medicine, the world's largest medical library. The book features artifacts from the library's private collection, dating from the 13th through the 20th century, including color-illustrated medical books; rare manuscripts; pamphlets and ephemera; “magic lantern” slides; toys; stereograph cards; scrapbooks; film stills; posters; and more.[4][5] Edmonson and Warner's Dissection: Photographs of a Rite of Passage in American Medicine: 1880-1930 (2009) catalogued over 100 previously unpublished archival photographs of students at prominent American medical schools posing alongside dissected cadavers in their anatomy classes.[6]

Blast has produced three books in conjunction with the Center for Land Use Interpretation: Up River: Man-Made Sites of Interest on the Hudson from the Battery to Troy, by Matthew Coolidge (2008),[7] Around the Bay: Man-Made Sites of Interest in the San Francisco Bay Region (2013), and Los Alamos Rolodex: Doing Business with the National Lab, 1967-1978 (2016).[8][9]

In 2000 Blast published "When I'm Dead All This Will Be Yours!": Joe Teller – A Portrait by His Kid, by Teller (of Penn & Teller) and his father Joe.[10]

Blast's 2013 book, Everything's Coming Up Profits: The Golden Age of Industrial Musicals, by former David Letterman comedy writer Steve Young and cartoonist Sport Murphy, offered the first chronicle of a neglected genre of music history: the theatrical productions staged by corporations to promote new products to their sales force.[11] In 2016, the book rights were acquired by Amblin Entertainment, who announced development of a film production starring Will Ferrell and Kristen Wiig.[12]

Thomas Bernhard: 3 Days, published in 2016, chronicles a three-day park bench monologue by the Austrian novelist, playwright, and poet filmed by Ferry Radax for a 1970 documentary film about Bernhard.[13]

In 2017, Blast published The Secret World of Renaldo Kuhler,[14] the first collection of previously uncirculated illustrations by a prolific and idiosyncratic artist who created a vast body of visionary work without public recognition during his lifetime (1931–2013).[15][16] (Renaldo was the son of famous railroad designer Otto Kuhler.)

The following year, Blast published Robert McCracken Peck's Specimens of Hair: The Curious Collection of Peter A. Browne. The book is based on "an oddball collection of animal and human hair assembled by an obsessive 19th-century naturalist [which] was at one time deemed worthless by the Academy of Natural Sciences, despite including samples from 13 of the first 14 presidents."[17]


The company was established in 1989 by Laura Lindgren and Ken Swezey. Lindgren is a professional book designer who edits and designs Blast's titles.


  1. ^ Blast Books website
  2. ^ James Edmonson faculty page at Case Western Reserve University
  3. ^ John Harley Warner faculty page at Yale School of Medicine
  4. ^ Zuger, Abigail, "Art and Artistry of Our Anatomy", The New York Times, July 16, 2012
  5. ^ Mason, Betsy, "Rare, Beautiful and Disturbing Objects from the National Library of Medicine", Wired, April 2, 2012
  6. ^ Zuger, Abigail, "Snapshots From the Days of Bare-Hands Anatomy", The New York Times, April 27, 2009
  7. ^ "Up River: Man-Made Sites of Interest on the Hudson from the Battery to Troy, at". Archived from the original on 2015-12-22. Retrieved 2015-12-20.
  8. ^ "Los Alamos Rolodex: Doing Business with the National Lab 1967–1978,". Archived from the original on 2015-12-20. Retrieved 2015-12-20.
  9. ^ Meyer, Robinson, "The Traveling Salesmen of the Nuclear-Industrial Complex", The Atlantic, January 15, 2016
  10. ^ Scharper, Diane, review, The New York Times, January 28, 2001
  11. ^ Gara, Tom, "When Businesses Sang: An Ode to the Corporate Musical", The Wall Street Journal, October 25, 2013
  12. ^ "Will Ferrell, Kristen Wiig, Hairspray's Shaiman & Wittman Set Original Musical With La La Land's Marc Platt At Amblin," Deadline Hollywood, December 15, 2016
  13. ^ Knipfel, Jim, "To Make Oneself Understood is Impossible: Thomas Bernhard Speaks," Archived 2017-02-04 at the Wayback Machine The Believer, December 22, 2016
  14. ^ Publishers Weekly review of The Secret World of Renaldo Kuhler, September 25, 2017
  15. ^ Renaldo Kuhler website
  16. ^ Foster, John, The Secret World of Renaldo Kuhler (review), Raw Vision #96, p.71
  17. ^ Brady, Shaun, "Academy of Natural Sciences curator of presidents’ hair will exhume the odd lot Wednesday," The Philadelphia Inquirer, Nov. 12, 2018

External linksEdit