Another book on New Testament background...
This basically reads like a non-narrative history textbook, which is probably because it is. It seeks to describe the social, political and economic structures of the Eastern Roman Empire between about 300BC and 100AD, with particular attention to the situation in Palestine.
And they're pretty good at that. Where they get ropey is when they try dealing with the gospels or letters and getting theology or history out of them. They don't seem to be especially good at dealing with subtlety, and would be better sticking with ancient history.
Generally pretty interesting on the historical background front.