New Release


Magic to Do: Pippin‘s Fantastic, Fraught Journey to Broadway and Beyond

By Elysa Gardner

(Applause Books, November 2022)

In Magic to Do, which celebrates the 50th anniversary of Pippin‘s opening, two-time Pulitzer Prize jury member Elysa Gardner turns her attention to this innovative show, the musical retelling of the story of Prince Pippin, son of Charlemagne, and his quest for an “extraordinary life.” Magic to Do dives deep into the legendary clashes, backstage drama, and incredible artistic synergy that produced one of Broadway’s most influential musicals, a show that paved the way for the pop-informed musicals that we know and love today. Full of big personalities, brilliant creative minds, and never-before-told stories, Magic to Do is an intimate look at a moment in history, a time and a place in which popular culture was as defined by conflict—between the young and the old, idealism and cynicism, creation and destruction—as anything else. Gardner draws out this friction through her examination of the creative struggles between Pippin‘s director/choreographer, the iconic Bob Fosse, for whom the show would mark a massive career resurgence, and its young composer/lyricist, Stephen Schwartz (of Wicked fame), who was making his Broadway debut.

Magic to Do, named for the opening song of the musical, clearly marks the lasting cultural significance of Pippin, which derives in large part from the timelessness of the search for self, one that presents itself anew to each succeeding generation, accounting for the show’s enduring popularity around the world. Infused with R&B sounds and a universal message, it is fair to say that, without Pippin, there is no Spring Awakening, Dear Evan Hansen, or even Hamilton.


“Compulsively readable…. Through her cultural anthropology and extensive interviews, Gardner provides singular insight into the creation of this arresting, weird and somewhat nonsensical piece of theater. Magic to Do is for more than just Fosse completists and those who save their old Playbills. It allows a rare glimpse into the perils and joys of collaboration and the indefinable alchemy necessary to develop any piece of art that transcends generations.”
The New York Times

“A dishy, fascinating look at how creative powerhouses can change the world, and the dirty work it can take to produce truly meaningful art.”
Town & Country

“Where the book shines is in locating Pippin in its contemporary cultural and political moment…. An intimate and insightful addition for die-hard fans of Pippin, musical theater, and pop culture history.”
Library Journal

“A 1972 musical takes shape amid clashing outsize personalities in journalist Gardner’s fizzy debut…. Broadway buffs will fall under the spell of this showbiz saga.”
Publishers Weekly


Elysa Gardner currently covers cabaret for the New York Times and has at various points been a regular contributor to The New Yorker (as “Night Life” columnist), Rolling Stone, the Los Angeles Times, and VH1. Formerly the theater and music critic for USA Today, she, and her writing, have also appeared in Entertainment Weekly, Spin, Vibe, Billboard, Town & Country, Out, American Theatre, and other publications. Her TV and radio appearances range from NPR to The Today Show. Elysa has served on the Pulitzer Prize drama jury twice, most recently (2017) as chair, and is a board member of the Drama Desk.

New Release


Crafting Change: Handmade Activism, Past and Present

By Jessica Vitkus

(Farrar, Straus and Giroux Books For Young Readers, October 2022)

You don’t have to be old enough to vote to drive political change.

In Crafting Change, author, TV producer, and craftivist Jessica Vitkus explores the rich lineage of craftivism, with profiles of craftivisit icons, many of whom are women and people of color. This YA non-fiction book shines a light on artist-driven projects like This Is Not a Gun – workshops where people sculpt objects the police have mistaken for a gun in fatal shootings – alongside creative movements that mobilized entire communities, like the AIDS Memorial Quilt and the Pussyhat project for the 2017 Women’s March. This engaging narrative combines compelling artist interviews with full-color photos of creators and crafts alike.

A perfect book for teens who want to channel their creativity into political action, with ideas for simple projects sure to appeal to budding craftivists.


“At once fascinating, thought provoking, and inspiring.”
Booklist, starred review

“Reading the interview excerpts with craftivists, such as Black Girl Magic Portraits creator Melissa Blount, Pussyhat Project creators Jayna Zweiman and Krista Suh, and organizations like the Be Seen Project, will give any craftivist or crafting club lots of steam. … Expertly organized to document the psychological benefits and historical and contemporary ways crafting brings communities together in action.”
School Library Journal, starred review

“Profiling a variety of makers, craftspeople who use their creations to get their messages out, this bright, well-illustrated book encourages readers to try their hands at craftivism…. The subjects are broadly diverse, and their passions connect to a range of social issues, so most readers will both feel included and learn something new…. Expansive, inclusive, and motivating.”
Kirkus Reviews


Jessica Vitkus is a writer and television producer living in New York City. She has written craft stories and developed craft projects for Martha Stewart magazines and television, and has worked as a writer/producer for MTV News, Pop-Up Video, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and Late Night with Stephen Colbert.

New Release


Everything Was Possible: The Birth of the Musical Follies

By Ted Chapin

(Applause Books, August 2022)

Have you ever been curious about what it takes to get an original Broadway musical to opening night? Ted Chapin, college student at the time, had a front row seat at the creation of Stephen Sondheim’s Follies, now considered one of the most important musicals of modern time. He kept a detailed journal of his experience as the sole production assistant, which he used as the basis for Everything Was Possible, originally published in 2003. He was there in the drama-filled rehearsal room, typing the endless rewrites, ferrying new songs around town, pampering the film and television stars in the cast, travelling with the show to its Boston tryout and back to New York for the Broadway opening night. With an enthusiast’s focus on detail and a journalist’s skill, Chapin takes the reader on the roller-coaster ride of creating a new and original Broadway musical. Musical theater giants, still rising in their careers, were working at top form on what became a Tony Award-winning classic: Stephen Sondheim, Harold Prince, and Michael Bennett. Many classic Sondheim songs like “I’m Still Here,” “Losing My Mind,” and “Broadway Baby” were part of the score, some written in a hotel room in Boston.

Celebrate the 50th anniversary of Follies with Ted Chapin. A new afterword brings the history of the show forward, diving into recent productions around the world, new recordings, and the continued promise of a film version.


“It’s not only the best book about the musical theater I’ve ever read, it was so vivid that I couldn’t wait to see how everything turned out.”
Stephen Sondheim

“If there has ever been an account of the creation of a major Broadway production as complete, candid and apocrypha-free as this one, I have not found it.”
Frank Rich, writer-at-large for New York Magazine

“A book to please Sondheim aficionados, it should also engross anyone wanting to know the details of mounting a big-budget Broadway show.”
Booklist, starred review


Ted Chapin was president of The Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization for 40 years, having been hired by the two families shortly after Richard Rodgers passed away. His career has ranged from assistant director on the original production of Neil Simon’s The Sunshine Boys to being one of the founders of the Encores! series at New York City Center. He sits on several boards and is the co-chairman of the American Theatre Wing and chairman of the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music. He is a frequent speaker at colleges and has made several film and television appearances.

New Release


The Holy or the Broken: Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley, and the Unlikely Ascent of “Hallelujah”

By Alan Light

(Atria, June 2022)

This revised and updated edition was published in anticipation of the feature-length documentary based on the book, Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, a Journey, a Song, distributed by Sony Pictures Classics, which had its US theatrical release on July 1, 2022.

The Holy or the Broken is the unforgettable, fascinating, and unexpected account of one of the most-performed and beloved songs in pop history — Leonard Cohen’s heartrending “Hallelujah.”

When Leonard Cohen first wrote and recorded the song “Hallelujah,” it attracted little attention or airplay, dismissed by both fans and critics alike. Today, it is one of the most recorded songs in history, having been covered by a variety of music icons, including Celine Dion, Bon Jovi, Willie Nelson, and, most famously, Jeff Buckley. It’s been featured on soundtracks as diverse as Shrek to The West Wing. And in the days after major tragedies, it has brought comfort to thousands after being featured in the MTV 9/11 tribute video and the telethon for the 2010 Haitian earthquake.

So, how did one obscure song become an unofficial international anthem for human triumph and tragedy, a song each successive generation feels they have discovered and claimed as uniquely their own? What led hundreds of artists, including Bob Dylan, U2, Justin Timberlake, and k.d. lang to cover it?

Through expansive research and in-depth interviews with its interpreters and the key figures who were actually there for its original recordings, celebrated music journalist Alan Light follows the captivating and improbable journey of “Hallelujah” straight to the heart of popular culture. In The Holy or the Broken readers will discover how great songs come to be, and how we as listeners have the endless ability to project a succession of meanings onto a cultural artifact, forever reinterpreting art through the lens of current events and the latest trends.


“Thoughtful and illuminating… [Mr. Light] is a fine companion for this journey through one song’s changing fortunes.”
The New York Times

“Brilliantly revelatory…. A masterful work of critical journalism.”
Kirkus Reviews, starred review


Alan Light has been one of America’s leading music journalists for the past 20 years. He was a writer at Rolling Stone, founding music editor and editor-in-chief of Vibe, and editor-in-chief of Spin magazine. He has been a contributor to the New Yorker, GQ, Entertainment Weekly, Elle, and Mother Jones. He is the author of The Skills to Pay the Bills, an oral history of the Beastie Boys, and What Happened, Miss Simone?; and the co-writer of New York Times-bestselling memoirs by Gregg Allman, My Cross to Bear, and Peter Frampton, Do You Feel Like I Do? Light is based in New York City.

New Paperback Release

9781039003262 (1)

Wish You Were Here: A Murdered Girl, a Brother’s Quest and the Hunt for a Serial Killer

By John Allore and Patricia Pearson

(Random House Canada, May 2022)

A Toronto Star National Bestseller

As compelling as Michelle McNamara’s I’ll Be Gone in the Dark or Stevie Cameron’s On the Farm, Wish You Were Here is the story of a brother’s lifelong determination to find the truth about his sister’s death, a police force that was ignoring the cases of missing and murdered women, and, to the surprise of everyone involved, a previously undiscovered serial killer.

In the fall of 1978 teenager Theresa Allore went missing near Sherbrooke, Quebec. She wasn’t seen again until the spring thaw revealed her body in a creek only a few kilometers away. Shrugging off her death as a result of 1970s drug culture, police didn’t investigate.

Patricia Pearson started dating Theresa’s brother, John, during the aftermath of Theresa’s death. Though the two teens would soon go their separate ways, the family’s grief, obsession with justice and desire for the truth never left Patricia. Little did she know, the shockwaves of Theresa’s death would return to her life repeatedly over the next 40 years.

In 2001, John had just moved to Chapel Hill, North Carolina, with his wife and young children, when the cops came to the door. They had determined that a young girl had been murdered and buried in the basement. John wondered: if these cops could look for this young girl, why had nobody even tried to find out what happened to Theresa? Unable to rest without closure, he reached out to Patricia, by now an accomplished crime journalist and author, and together they found answers far bigger and more alarming than they could have imagined—and a legacy of violence that refused to end.


Wish You Were Here is at once a riveting mystery, an astute analysis of sexual violence, an investigation of a police force and a study in grief and loss. On all levels it succeeds brilliantly. An engrossing, heartbreaking and necessary book.”
Don Gillmour, author of The River, winner of the 2019 Governor-Generals Award

Wish You Were Here is an investigation intimate and mournful in nature, yet heroic in its level of forensic detail. By bearing witness to how a malefactor slips through the cracks of a haphazard, morally bankrupt system, infected by misogyny and cronyism—and how the legacy of that injustice connects to further calamity—the brave authors take back some of what is lost, bringing some measure of justice to an unending spiral of tragedy.”
Bob Kolker, author of Lost Girls and Hidden Valley Road

“Infuriating, gripping and devastating, Wish You Were Here is…a heartfelt memorial to Theresa, and a testament to her family, who have never stopped seeking justice for her and many others who were stolen.”
Jessica McDiarmid, author of Highway of Tears: A True Story of Racism, Indifference and the Pursuit of Justice


John Allore is the creator and host of the podcast Who Killed Theresa, which concentrates on unsolved murders in Quebec, and other criminal and social-justice issues. He launched one of the first crime blogs, and the website not only documents the search for his sister’s killer but a trove of information on other unsolved cases in Canada and the US. He’s created a database for all such cases in Canada that uses software to identify clusters and serial predator patterns. He lives with his family in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Patricia Pearson is an award-winning author and the recipient of three Canadian National Magazine Awards, the Arthur Ellis Award for best Canadian nonfiction crime writing, and a North American Travel Journalism Association award. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Toronto Life, Reader’s Digest, the Toronto Star, National Post, The Guardian, the New York Times, More, the Globe and Mail, The Daily Telegraph, Business Week, NPR, CBC Television, The History Channel, and TV Ontario, among many others. In 2003, she was a finalist for the Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour, Canada’s version of the Mark Twain prize.

New Release


All of the Marvels: A Journey to the Ends of the Biggest Story Ever Told

By Douglas Wolk

(Penguin Press, October 2021)

The superhero comic books that Marvel Comics has published since 1961 are the longest continuous, self-contained work of fiction ever created: over half a million pages to date, and growing. The Marvel story is a gigantic mountain, smack in the middle of contemporary culture. Thousands of writers and artists have contributed to it. Every schoolchild recognizes its protagonists: Spider-Man, the Avengers, the X-Men. 18 of the 100 highest-grossing movies of all time are directly based on parts of it. And not even the people telling the story have read the whole thing – nobody’s supposed to. So, of course, that’s what comics critic Douglas Wolk did: he read all 27,000 comics that make up the Marvel universe thus far, from Alpha Flight to Omega the Unknown.

And then he made sense of it: seeing into the ever-expanding story, in its parts and as a coherent whole, and seeing through it, as a prism through which to view the landscape of popular culture. In Wolk’s hands, the mammoth Marvel narrative becomes a funhouse-mirror history of the past 60 years, from the atomic night-terrors of the Cold War to the technocracy and political division of the present day – a boisterous, tragicomic, magnificently filigreed epic about power and ethics, set in a world transformed by wonders.

As a work of cultural exegesis, All of the Marvels is sneakily significant, even a landmark; it’s also ludicrously fun. Wolk sees fascinating patterns – the rise and fall of particular cultural aspirations, and of the storytelling modes that conveyed them. He observes the Marvel story’s progressive visions and its painful stereotypes, its patches of woeful hackwork and stretches of luminous creativity, and the way they all feed into a potent cosmology that echoes our deepest hopes and fears. This is a huge treat for Marvel fans, but it’s also a revelation for readers who don’t know Doctor Strange from Doctor Doom. Here, truly, are all of the marvels.


“Brilliant, eccentric, moving and wholly wonderful…. All of the Marvels is magnificently marvelous. Wolk’s work will invite many more alliterative superlatives. It deserves them all.”
The New York Times

“Wolk is a fine writer and raconteur…. For anyone willing to take that step into the inconceivably vast and wonderful world that generations of creators have brought to us, issue by issue, month by month, year by year, All of the Marvels is an indispensable handbook.”

“The way Wolk makes sense of, finds beauty in, and connects all the different stories and details is masterful…. A must-read for all Marvel fans, from devotees to newbies, All of the Marvels is a colorful and heartfelt journey through the Marvel Universe.”

“Wolk pulls off an extraordinary feat in this tour-de-force, distilling over 60 years of Marvel Comics stories into a fascinating guide that will resonate with true believers and neophytes alike.”
Publisher’s Weekly, starred review


Comics writer, critic, journalist and teacher Douglas Wolk is the author of the Eisner Award-winning Reading Comics and the host of the podcast “The Voice of Latveria.” A National Arts Journalism Program Fellow, Wolk has written about comic books, graphic novels, pop music, and technology for the New York Times, Rolling Stone, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, The Believer, Slate, and Pitchfork. He lives in Portland, Oregon.

New Release


Planet Palm: How Palm Oil Became an Ingredient in Everything―and Endangered the World

By Jocelyn Zuckerman

(The New Press, May 2021)

It’s in our instant noodles and chocolate bars, our lipsticks and fuel tanks. But what is palm oil, and how has it come to dominate our lives so completely?

James Beard Award–winning journalist Jocelyn C. Zuckerman travels across four continents and back in time two centuries to find answers about the most widely used vegetable oil on Earth. The obscure oil palm fruit, she discovers, has played an outsized role in history, from greasing the gears of the Second Industrial Revolution to transforming the economies of Malaysia and Indonesia. But this little fruit also belies an industry of vicious exploitation and ruinous damage to our planet. The multi-billion-dollar palm oil business has been built on stolen land and slave labor, once spurred the colonization of Nigeria, and has swept away lives and cultures. Fires lit to clear the way for plantations spew carbon emissions to rival those of entire industrialized nations. Mass deforestation so ravaged the landscapes of Southeast Asia that animals like the orangutan now teeter on the brink of extinction.

Jocelyn C. Zuckerman spent years traveling the globe, from Liberia to Indonesia, India to Brazil, reporting on the human and environmental impacts of this poorly understood plant. The result is Planet Palm, a riveting account blending history, science, politics, and food as seen through the people whose lives have been upended by this hidden ingredient. Planet Palm offers an unsettling, urgent look at the global palm oil industry, illuminating what has today become an environmental, public health, and human rights disaster.


“Crisscrossing four continents, Zuckerman presents a spirited and disarming exposé of the insidious way this one tree species has endangered cultures, economies, and ecosystems… [a] crucial and exemplary work of investigative planetary journalism.”
Booklist, starred review

“[A] definitive, damning account of the history of palm oil production and the ecological destruction it causes…. Instructive and provocative.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Grounded in years of painstaking journalistic research, Planet Palm offers fascinating insights into the labyrinthine and often environmentally destructive palm oil industry.”
International Affairs

“This extraordinary work of investigative journalism will make you cry and gnash your teeth. It will fill you with rage. Essential reading for everyone who wonders if their food choices matter.”
Ruth Reichl, bestselling author of Tender At the Bone and My Kitchen Year


Jocelyn Zuckerman is a writer and journalist whose work has appeared in Fast Company, The American Prospect, the New York Times Magazine, and other publications. She served as deputy editor at Gourmet, articles editor at OnEarth, and executive editor at both Whole Living and Modern Farmer magazines. An honors graduate of Columbia University’s Journalism School, she is the recipient of a James Beard Award for feature writing and numerous fellowships, including an Alicia Patterson Fellowship in support of her research on palm oil. She is based in Brooklyn, NY.

New Paperback Release


Cruel to Be Kind: The Life and Music of Nick Lowe

By Will Birch

(Da Capo, March 2021)

Described as “Britain’s greatest living songwriter,” Nick Lowe has made his mark as a pioneer of pub rock, power-pop, and punk rock and as a producer of Elvis Costello, Graham Parker, the Damned, and the Pretenders. He has been a pop star with his bands Brinsley Schwarz and Rockpile, a stepson-in-law to Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash, and is the writer behind hits including “Cruel to Be Kind” and “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding.” In the past decades, however, he has distinguished himself as an artist who is equally acclaimed for the second act of his career as a tender yet sharp-tongued acoustic balladeer.

Biographer Will Birch, who in addition to being a music writer was a drummer and songwriter with The Records, has known Lowe for over forty years and melds Lowe’s gift as a witty raconteur with his own authoritative analysis of Lowe’s background and the cultural scenes he exemplifies. Lowe’s parallel fame as one of the best interviews in the business will contribute to this first look into his life and work–and likely the closest thing fans will get to an autobiography by this notoriously charming cult figure.

This is not an authorized biography, but Lowe has given it his spiritual blessing and his management and label are fully on board. Cruel to Be Kind is the colorful yet serious account of one of the world’s most talented and admired musicians.


“[An] entertaining biography… [Birch] is casually expert in the way of those rare music writers who can both play music and write.”
The Wall Street Journal

“[Cruel to Be Kind] makes clear that Lowe’s contributions to pop music have been many and mighty–and certainly worthy of celebration with a biography…sure to please old-time admirers of an essential rocker.”
Kirkus Reviews

“In leisurely, insightful prose…Will Birch offers a solid biography for Lowe’s devoted fans.”
Publishers Weekly

“[Will Birch] has written a sunny book about the genial and underappreciated Lowe, following his career through its many incarnations… [A]n enjoyable portrait.”

“A book that’s as warm, funny, and affecting as Lowe’s best songs.”


Will Birch is a music journalist, drummer, and songwriter based in the UK. In the 1970s he performed with the bands Kursaal Flyers (“Little Does She Know”) and The Records (“Starry Eyes”), before moving into record production and music journalism. He is the author of No Sleep Till Canvey Island – The Great Pub Rock Revolution (Virgin Books 2000). Co-agented with The Soho Agency.

New Release


Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics

By Dolly Parton, with Robert K. Oermann

(Chronicle Books, November 2020)

A New York Times Bestseller

Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics is a landmark celebration of the remarkable life and career of a country music and pop culture legend.

As told by Dolly Parton in her own inimitable words, this book explores the songs that have defined her journey. It is illustrated throughout with previously unpublished images from Dolly Parton’s personal and business archives.

Mining over 60 years of songwriting, Dolly Parton highlights 175 of her songs and brings readers behind the lyrics. Dolly Parton, Songteller is packed with never-before-seen photographs and classic memorabilia and explores the personal stories, candid insights, and myriad memories behind her songs.

Dolly Parton, Songteller reveals the stories and memories that have made Dolly a beloved icon across generations, genders, and social and international boundaries.

Containing rare photos and memorabilia from Parton’s archives, this book is a show- stopping must-have for every Dolly Parton fan.


“‘My name is Dolly Parton, and I am a songwriter….In a song, I can go anywhere and do anything.’ So begins this volume dedicated to the craft of a country music superstar only belatedly being recognized as the national treasure that she is. The book presents the lyrics to 175 of her songs—from ‘Jolene’ and ‘Coat of Many Colors’ to ‘I Will Always Love You’ and ‘9 to 5,’ along with many other lesser-known compositions—accompanied by the stories behind them. And the photos! A lavish scrapbook for Dolly fans.”
Kirkus Reviews


Dolly Parton is the most honored and revered female country singer-songwriter of all time. Achieving 25 RIAA-certified gold, platinum, and multi-platinum awards, she has had 26 songs reach #1 on the Billboard country charts, a record for a female artist. Parton recently became the first country artist honored as Grammy MusiCares Person of the Year given out by NARAS. She has 41 career Top 10 country albums, a record for any artist, and 110 career-charted singles over the past 40 years. In 2014, the RIAA recognized her impact on recorded music with a plaque commemorating more than 100 million units sold worldwide. Her 2016 #1 album, Pure & Simple, which topped the Billboard Top Country Albums and Americana/Folk Albums charts and debuted at No. 1 in the U.S., Canada, U.K. and Australia, added to that massive tally. She has garnered ten Grammy Awards and 49 nominations, including the Lifetime Achievement Award and a 2020 win with for KING & COUNTRY for their collaboration on “God Only Knows”; 10 Country Music Association Awards, including Entertainer of the Year; five Academy of Country Music Awards, also including a nod for Entertainer of the Year; four People’s Choice Awards; and three American Music Awards. In 1999, Parton was inducted as a member of the coveted Country Music Hall of Fame. Parton has donated over 130 million books to children around the world with her Imagination Library. Her children’s book, Coat of Many Colors, was dedicated to the Library of Congress to honor the Imagination Library’s 100 millionth book donation.

Robert K. Oermann is an award-winning multimedia music journalist who is considered the “unofficial historian of Nashville’s musical heritage.” He writes weekly columns for Music Row magazine and has been published in more than 100 periodicals including Entertainment Weekly, Esquire, Billboard, Hollywood Reporter, TV Guide, The Tennessean, and USA Today. Oermann is also a television and radio script writer and director of dozens of national productions. His various honors include the ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award, the Media Achievement Award from the Country Music Association, Country Music People’s International Media Award, Goldmine’s Best Historical Writer, and SESAC’s Journalistic Achievement Award. He has authored eight books and penned liner notes for over 100 albums and box sets. Oermann has lectured about popular music, journalism, and country music at many colleges and universities, and lives in Nashville with his wife, Mary A. Bufwack.

New Paperback Release


Janis: Her Life and Music

By Holly George-Warren

(Simon & Schuster, October 2020)

Longlisted for the 2020 Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction

This extraordinarily intimate and “gripping” (Vanity Fair) biography of Janis Joplin establishes the Queen of Rock & Roll as the rule-breaking musical trailblazer and complicated, gender-bending rebel she was.

Janis Joplin’s first transgressive act was to be a white girl who gained an early sense of the power of the blues, music you could only find on obscure records and in roadhouses along the Texas and Louisiana Gulf Coast. But even before that, she stood out in her conservative oil town. She was a tomboy who was also intellectually curious and artistic. By the time she reached high school, she had drawn the scorn of her peers for her embrace of the Beats and her racially progressive views. Her parents doted on her in many ways, but were ultimately put off by her repeated acts of defiance.

Janis Joplin has become a legend known as a brash, impassioned soul doomed by the pain that produced one of the most extraordinary voices in rock history. But in these pages, Holly George-Warren provides a revelatory and deeply satisfying portrait of a woman who wasn’t all about suffering. Janis was a perfectionist: a passionate, erudite musician who was born with talent but also worked exceptionally hard to develop it. She was a woman who pushed the boundaries of gender and sexuality long before it was socially acceptable. She was a sensitive seeker who wanted to marry and settle down—but couldn’t, or wouldn’t. She was a Texan who yearned to flee Texas but could never quite get away—even after becoming a countercultural icon in San Francisco.

Written by one of the most highly regarded chroniclers of American music history, and based on unprecedented access to Janis Joplin’s family, friends, band mates, archives, and long-lost interviews, Janis is the “significance-establishing project Joplin appreciators have been waiting for” (The New York Times Book Review).


“[Janis] performs a service by stripping away a lot of the noise around Joplin . . . and telling her story simply and well, with some of the tone and flavor of a good novel.”
The New York Times

“In encapsulating Joplin’s dual nature so concisely, George-Warren delivers the definitive portrait of one of pop culture’s most misunderstood martyrs…. [In] dwelling so sympathetically on her tangle of talents, contradictions, and mythology, Janis brings one of rock’s most enduring legends down to earth while holding her justly up to the light.”

“[Janis] is sober and thorough, and it amounts to the last word on a brief candle of an existence, a life whose peaks and valleys make your average mountain range look as flat as an acre of Texas farmland.”
The Washington Post

“Never before the revelatory new book Janis: Her Life and Music has [Janis Joplin] been fully recognized as a groundbreaking musician charting a fresh course for the blues, for rock, and for women, while, at the same time, obliterating the line between the performance of a song and essence of her soul.”
Entertainment Weekly

“A richly detailed, affectionate portrait…. A top-notch biography of one of the greatest performers to emerge from a brilliant era.”
Kirkus Reviews, starred review


Holly George-Warren is an award-winning writer and music consultant. As editorial director of Rolling Stone Press from 1993-2001, she created over forty books, including New York Times bestsellers and ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award-winners. She has worked as a curator for the GRAMMY Museum and currently serves on the nominating committee of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. A two-time Grammy nominee, she teaches Arts Journalism at the State University of New York in New Paltz, NY.