One of the nice aspects of the Steinsaltz Gemaras is that he provides little historical background pieces to figures and objects referenced in the text, as well as linguistic analysis of certain non-Hebrew/Aramaic words. I was wondering how his work is received by academics and if he's considered to be reliable in terms of the history/archaeology/linguistics side of his Shas.
R Feldman's book gives an academic critique of the the Steinzaltz gemara in this book touching on some of the points in the question
The Eye of the Storm: A Calm View of Raging Issues
By Harav Aharon Feldman
The article was also in Tradition, the full text appears here
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