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Publisher's Summary

Ghost Empire is a rare treasure - an utterly captivating blend of the historical and the contemporary, realised by a master storyteller.

In 2014, Richard Fidler and his son Joe made a journey to Istanbul. Fired by Richard's passion for the rich history of the dazzling Byzantine Empire - centred around the legendary Constantinople - we are swept into some of the most extraordinary tales in history. The clash of civilisations, the fall of empires, the rise of Christianity, revenge, lust, murder.

Turbulent stories from the past are brought vividly to life at the same time as a father navigates the unfolding changes in his relationship with his son. Ghost Empire is a revelation: a beautifully told ode to a lost civilisation, and a warmly observed father-son adventure far from home.

©2016 Richard Fidler (P)2016 Bolinda

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Great Listen

What did you love best about Ghost Empire?

Well written and read by Richard Fidler. A fascinating history of a strategic, important city, inhabited and fought for by diverse cultures.

Any additional comments?

It is such a pity that Constantinople and Byzantine are pronounced with incorrect emphasis. As they occur frequently it becomes annoying.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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The writer isn't always the best narrator

I was very much looking forward to this book - very, very much - but the outdated gender philosophies around father/son relationships and the narrator's dull and charmless delivery made it impossible to get through chapter one. I'm going to try again in hard copy. Maybe.

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Unraveled byzantine history

Very much enjoyed the exploration of an old city. The movement between the contemporary and the past was presented in a way that pulls you in. I have wanted to do something similar but Erdogan and the occasional crack downs give me pause. As does all the rest of the regional chaos. The trip to Roman ruins is on the list and this book upped the desire factor.

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  • JL
  • 06-11-17

Interesting story by a great storyteller

Interesting history of Byzantium combined with a travelogue of Istanbul and Rome. The author is an excellent and captivating storyteller with a great ability to weave a complicated yet easy to follow story. His depiction of the Fourth Crusade is probably the best I've heard and truly captures pointless tragedy of the affair. He doesn't dive into as great of detail on some issues that other histories cover, namely the theological disputes, but that is probably for the better in keeping the story moving. Definitely recommend.

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Great presentation

The journalist Fidler does a really wonderful and entertaining presentation both in content and narration. Like an excellent song sung by the songwriter, Fidler imparts emotion at the level the text demands. There may be new things for Byzantine history buffs but mostly is is enjoyable the way he put it together. Everyone who loves history whether you care for Byzantine history or not should listen. It will grab you from the start.

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loved it

Richard Fidler is such a compelling narrator. his enthusiasm for the story behind this fascinating place is infectious.

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  • David H. Cats
  • 09-06-16

Fabulous Book

A well written and well narrated book which brought history to life with a breath of fresh air and a father and son rite of passage. Absolutely loved it and highly recommend.

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  • Fjp
  • 04-23-17

Loved it.

We travelled through Turkey for 6 weeks in May/June 2013 with our 2 boys aged 15 & 13, it is a magical place with so much history and beauty.I wish I had of had this book before we went to Turkey , to understand a more in depth history of the place.The only thing I really knew about Turkey was about Gallipoli and our Anzacs.It blew me away how rich and interesting the history of Turkey is (I did modern history in high school which I loved, but now wish I had done ancient as well) , Richard and Joe's visit had many similarities to ours and I thoroughly enjoyed the interwoven history.Richards calm tone makes it a very easy to listen to audiobook.I am going to buy the hardback copy as well just to have it in my library. This book took me back to Beautiful Turkey and back to Byzantium.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Rodney Wetherell
  • 09-05-16

Great story of long decline

Once into this reading, I could barely stop listening. Richard Fidler has written and read superbly.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 12-11-17

Richard and Joe

I enjoyed this journey a lot- enlightening historical anecdotes and numerous intimate moments between father and son.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Kristy
  • 08-01-17

Engrossing

A brilliantly written title and performed so perfectly by the author. There is nothing better than hearing stories the way in which they were intended to be heard.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Dan T
  • 08-29-16

Well put together

Places the listener into the perspective of the times. I found myself willing this ongoing line of Emperors to "get a clue", but the history is fixed with all the human flaws.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Amanda
  • 09-17-18

Byzantium uncovered

If only just recently been intrigued by ancient history and even more recent been beguiled by Eastern Roman Empire. I’d read about the transition of Rome from republic to empire, it’s troubles, decline into chaos and fading away, but had stopped short of expanding on my understanding of what Eastern Roman Empire was about. Richard Fidler has kindled that interest anew. Having enjoyed the comedy of the Doug Anthony Allstars in the 90s, and catching the odd episode of Conversations on Radio National, I was really intrigued that he’d written this piece on Byzantium. I loved it!
However, one pitifully sampled detain had got to me. As a toxophilite myself, I openly (and I mean cursing at my phone) chastised the author on referencing the Hunnic use of the compound bow. I use a compound bow. The Hun used composite bows. Big difference. Apart from that ever so slight editorial gaff, I thoroughly recommend this book who is even remotely curious about Byzantium.

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  • Daniel Brilliant
  • 06-01-18

Difficult to listen to the narrarion

I listen to Richard Fidler in radio & enjoy his interviews. However, his narration om this book seems out of character with his usual speech pattern. I began listening & found the story engrossing but the halting speech pattern grated on me so I stopped. Sorry Richard I found it irritating to listen to. I’m sure it’s a great book. I might have to read it in print for myself.

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  • Matt Struthers
  • 05-03-18

Interesting history lesson

I found the way the story was told with mostly history and some of the family trip intertwined with the locations to flow well and paint my mind picture easily. I enjoyed listening to the way Richard has written and read the story.

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  • Marita
  • 04-29-18

Glad I read it!

I was very ignorant of the history surrounding Istanbul, and having been there, I wanted to get a better idea of it. This book definitely helped. Great way to write it - teaching his son and bringing it into today throughout the book. I'll now read more on the history of the Roman Empire, and of this great city.

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  • Darryl Sim
  • 04-29-18

enlightening and warm, stranger than fiction

i learnt more about the history of that region than i could have imagined. lovely father son experience.