2009 is the 250th anniversary of Handel's death, and his music is more popular than ever. This is a view of his life -- his character, faith and music -- as his contemporaries saw him. It lets them speak for themselves, and on Handel's behalf. Though well-researched and assuming intelligent readers, it is aimed at music lovers, not scholars. It asks: what was Handel like, what motivated him, and why did he really write _Messiah_ and 17 other biblical oratorios? The answers are both fascinating and inspiring.