Having been quite impressed by one of Grant's Roman Empire books, I had high expectations for this book -- expectations which (excepting maybe the chapter on Herod) were not met. The problem is this: Grant had abundant source material for his Roman books, so he can give a seemingly accurate description of imperial Rome. But for most of Israel's history up to about 100 BC or so, there is almost no source material other than the Bible. Thus, you can't even try to interpret Hebrew history before 100 without intelligently explaining your view on the truth (or lack of same) of the Hebrew Bible (or as Christians call it, the Old Testament). So to intelligently discuss what might have happened, you have to show some understanding of the theological issue -- and Grant, being a historian and not a theologian, doesn't even try to do so. Unfortunately, Grant just assumes the truth of one view (the "Documentary Hypothesis" -- i.e., that the Bible was written by a wide variety of people rather than being transmitted by God to Moses and the prophets) rather than arguing the point, so his interpretations are useless to anyone but hardened secularists. I gave this book two stars instead of one only because Grant does have some interesting tidbits about various minor points (e.g. minor similarities between early Judaism and paganism).