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Ghost Empire  By  cover art

Ghost Empire

By: Richard Fidler
Narrated by: Richard Fidler
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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 listeners say about Ghost Empire

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  • MF
  • 01-02-22

Pleasantly surprised.

Histories are very rarely my thing. This was a book club pick that I delayed starting but was pretty surprised by. The author uses a personal story as a framing for recounting an overarching history of the Byzantine/Eastern Roman Empire, especially focused around the city of Constantinople. The framing story ties together the accounting of history along with a number of interesting stories and digressions that made for an interesting read. I found it both interesting and engaging and really appreciated that the author clearly delineated when a story was mostly lore or accounts of an event were few or questionable but still telling the tales to create interesting through lines.

While I could have done without some of the personal anecdotes, I feet that the format allowed the author to show some of the correlations and contrasts to modern day society. Would recommend.

The audiobook is narrated by the author and I think his authentic enthusiasm for the topic enhances the reading.

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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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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.

1 person found this helpful

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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.

12 people found this 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.

7 people found this helpful

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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.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Christaki
  • 09-27-20

I never knew how much I never knew about this amazing aspect of history

This was an eye-opening and enlightening journey through the history of the Byzantine Empire. I never knew how much I never knew.
The author takes us through an exciting chronological history of the eastern Roman and orthodox church. He brings to life the characters in a very real way. I’m not sure how much is hard fact, and where he may have improvised, but either way I am so much the wiser for having read this book.
The only aspect for which I don’t give five stars, is the actual performance of the author. A great researcher and writer, but not the best reader I’ve ever heard. A minor criticism.
I’m not sure why the author felt it necessary to proclaim himself to be at atheist. It seemed out of place. It may have simply been his way of proving his objectivity.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Sue Quin
  • 08-19-20

A fantastic Byzantine journey.

I loved the way the author presents the history of this epicentre of Byzantine culture. He effortlessly brings together the past and the present to give us the ultimate in travel books. However the big letdown was his style of narration, which became grating to listen to after a short while. He swallows and almost skips over his prepositions and pronouns and places too much emphases on other words, producing a clipped and poorly flowing narrative.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Karla
  • 05-18-19

Interesting and compelling

I really enjoyed this audiobook. It was an interesting insight to a part of history we here little about. The author re-told compelling stories of the times in a way the average person can relate to.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Lyndy
  • 04-07-19

Bringing history to life with easy style

A nice side story of a father and son trip against the backdrop of Istanbul and all the history of the Byzantine Empire

1 person found this 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 person found this 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 person found this 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 person found this helpful