Harris, Roberta L. The World of the Bible. London: Thames and Hudson, 1995. 192 pages. ISBN 0500050732.
I have long been interested in the archaeology and history of the ancient Mediterranean lands. The World of the Bible is an excellent introduction to the history of ancient Israel and Judah, and parts of what are now Egypt, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan. Roberta Harris tells this story chronologically, describing the lands around ancient Israel and how they developed over the millennia.
Harris discusses the development of both Judaism and Christianity as religions and the growth of Israel and Judah as political entities. The many struggles with invaders from other lands, such as the Assyrians, Egyptians, Babylonians, Greeks, Romans, Mongols, and Turks, are also discussed.
The only drawback is that this book is now 20 years old and there have been many developments in those years that clarified some of the issues Harris discussed (e.g., the size and extent of David's and Solomon's respective kingdoms).
One of this book's strengths is the significant number of illustrations, including photographs, drawings, diagrams, charts, etc., many of which are in color. They are particularly useful in helping the reader imagine the geography of the countryside or layout of a town or village. I recommend this book to anyone interested in ancient Mediterranean studies.