This is the best biography of Janis Joplin we've had to date. David Dalton's Janis (KR, 1972) was a creditable if somewhat starstruck effort while Peggy Caserta's Going Down With Janis (KR, p. 350) fell into the category of sexploitation trash. Ms. Friedman, who first befriended Janis when she was working in the office of her manager, rock impresario Albert Grossman, at once detected a toughness that was ""just about the phoniest front I believe I've ever seen."" The biography uncovers layer by layer the shattering insecurities beneath the honky-tonk exterior, the professional ambition she hid and denied, the ""counter-phobic"" posturing towards men and the ""extreme aggression against her person"" which pushed her to heroin, sleazy bars and ""pretty young men"" in a depressing spiral which ended with her death in a California motel. Withal Janis' rambunctious gusto for life, her resiliency, her humor and kindness flash through even as she willfully acted out her life to fit the Pearl of ""audience fantasy."" Her numberless fans ought to devour every word.