Richard Fidler
Richard Fidler
Writer - Broadcaster

The story of how Constantinople flourished into greatness and then expired in terrible violence is one of the strangest and most moving stories I know. I wanted my son to have that story too.

IN 2014 I brought my history-obsessed son Joe to Istanbul. Joe had just turned fourteen and the trip was conceived as a kind of coming-of-age adventure. 

 We were there to immerse ourselves in the stories of the city's earlier incarnation as Constantinople, the lost capital of the eastern Roman Empire.

  A thousand years ago, Constantinople was the greatest wonder of its age. It was an imperial capital, an emporium, a shrine and a fortress. Its emperor occupied the throne of the Roman Caesars. The city was designed as a mirror of heaven.

  Sometime in my twenties I discovered the treasure trove of stories that lie within the eleven centuries of Constantinople's history: tales of emperors and empresses, crusader knights, floating nuns, mechanical trees, Vikings, Huns, Goths and Khazars.

In the eleven centuries of Constantinople's existence we see the clash of civilizations, the fall of empires, the rise of Christianity, revenge, lust and murder. 


  I brought my son with me to Istanbul so he might have these stories too.

Map of Constantinople 1597 (Wikimedia Commons).

Map of Constantinople 1597 (Wikimedia Commons).


True stories of blood, treasure and conquest from the City of the World's Desire.

A brilliant reconstruction of the saga of power, glory, invasion and decay that is the one-thousand year story of Constantinople. A truly marvellous book.
Fidler’s story leaves its readers with a sense of faith in the renewing, illuminating, social powers of historical narrative. The tale of the Ghost Empire has bridged the gap between a father and son, enriching the contemporary world with the echoes of the past. Byzantium never really died. Its labyrinthine – its byzantine – intrigues cast their shadows over the city still.
— Sydney Morning Herald
“The beauty of this book is its accessibility... this complex account is so vividly and thrillingly related... We already know he is an interviewer of great empathy; now we know he mirrors that skill on the page, too.”
— The Australian
This is an invaluable addition to the growing literature on Byzantium... It doesn’t simply offer a gripping and fascinating story of crucial events in its 1000-year existence but adds the personal touch, the unearthing of its emotional significance through his visit to present-day Istanbul with his son.
— Prof. Vrasidas Karalis, University of Sydney.



Richard Fidler is a broadcaster and author. His long form interview show Conversations with Richard Fidler is broadcast across Australia on ABC Radio. The Conversations podcast receives 1.9 million downloads every month. In another life Richard was a member of the comedy trio The Doug Anthony Allstars (DAAS) which played to audiences all over the world. Ghost Empire is his first non-fiction book, published by ABC Books (full bio here).