This brilliant book is both a biography of Janis Joplin and a cultural history of the 1960s. Scars Of Sweet Paradise is a very thorough and in-depth look at Joplin's life and times and at the same time an exploration of the quiet suburban life versus the lure of the counterculture. The bohemian underground, unlike some idyllic portrayals of it, had its share of cynicism and destructiveness. Much of this book deals with this evolving underground as it relates to the music, gender relationships and the merger of art and commerce. It is the story of a generation's restless and reckless life on the edge, from which Janis and many others never returned. The author conducted over 150 interviews and spent 5 years on research to produce this comprehensive work on Joplin and her era. The Janis that emerges is a complex, multi-faceted personality that inspires admiration and sadness. The story begins in Port Arthur where Joplin's early life is described, including her first exposures to rock and folk music. It follows her to college and her first taste of the bohemian life then on to her first visit to San Francisco and eventual return to Port Arthur. She went back to SF and her career began to take off. It is fascinating to read about the colourful personalities that she mixed with in San Francisco: the friends, the lovers and the musicians. Echols is a skilful narrator, seamlessly blending Joplin's moves and her relationships with the rise of her career. There are plenty of quotes from contemporary musicians that really illuminate this mythologized period in history. My only minor complaint is that the author does not seem to share in the excitement as Joplin finally makes it big with Big Brother an the Cheap Thrills album - this story is just given clinically as part of the larger narrative. The various bands, Big Brother, Kozmic Blues and Full Tilt Boogie, are discussed in detail, as well as the recording process of each of the major albums: Cheap Thrills, I Got Dem Old Kozmic Blues and Pearl. The personalities behind her success, like Abert Grossman and Linda Gravenites, are sympathetically portrayed. Echols explores Joplin's influence on various performers and notes that the heavy metal crowd picked up on her style but that she didn't directly inspire any clones. Ultimately, Janis appears as a brave, wild and very vulnerable human being who was quite likable, if somewhat volatile. There are 35 black and white photographs and the book concludes with a discography, copious notes and an index. Almost scholarly in its depth, Scars Of Sweet Paradise is yet a gripping read that will please her fans and all who are interested in the 1960s counterculture and the evolution of rock music.