One of my Cursillo brothers gave me Bill O'Reilly's Killing Jesus for Christmas. I just finished it a few days ago and I absolutely loved it. The book takes a historical view of the events, intertwining Roman and Jewish history leading up to the crucifixion. I don't have much time to do a full review, so I'll keep this short.
I won't hear the Gospel reading or attend Mass the same way ever again. In addition to showing how events were unfolding around the life of Jesus and the way in which He avoided the heresy traps laid for him time and again by the Jewish priests, it gives you a good view into the life of the common Jew at the time. That last was the most potent part of the book for me. How the disciples didn't just fade into the crowds after the crucifixion is itself a miracle. Given the all-powerful nature of the Roman state and the way in which Caiaphas' people were cooperating with the Romans, I'd have been heading for the hills after Jesus' death if I'd been a disciple.
It makes you understand the importance of Pentecost, no question about it. I highly recommend the book.