National Central Library and the Australian Office in Taipei cohosted “A Travelogue of a Father and Son Seeking to Solve a Historical Mystery: Richard Fidler on Writing Ghost Empires and Book Signing Event.” It was held on March 17, 2019 at National Central Library’s International Meeting Hall. Richard Fidler, a renowned broadcaster and bestselling author in Australia, personally came to speak about his book. This was his only public address and book signing event in Taiwan. Also invited to the event was the popular Taiwan author Che-ching Hsie as a discussant. Both authors took the audience down the enchanting thousand year old path of the Byzantine Empire. The event was also broadcast on Da Ai TV’s program Youth Love Reading to allow more readers to enjoy this rare feast.
NCL Director-general Shu-hsien Tseng expressed in her remarks her gratitude for the Australian Office in Taipei’s long-term support of many reading promotion events put on by the Library, as well as their inviting many renowned authors from Australia to speak at the Library. The Office’s Deputy Chief Kuo-Liang Wu also expressed his thanks for NCL providing this opportunity for the two organizations to collaborate and for letting Mr. Fidler come to Taiwan to share his experience with readers here.
Ghost Empire’s creative impetus primarily came from Fidler’s fascination with the history of the Byzantine Empire, which caused him to take a trip from Rome to Istanbul. This trip also served as a rite of passage for his teenage son who is also a history buff. Fidler shared many interesting anecdotes from their travels, as well as their feelings in seeing countless historical buildings and vestiges. To them it felt like a trip through time and space. Mr. Che-ching Hsie shared during the discussion that an understanding of the Eastern Roman Empire’s rise and fall can be had through a plethora of books; however, most of them are dry and obtuse. Fidler’s Ghost Empire, on the other hand, is absolutely the best option for readers wanting to begin understanding this part of history.
The captivating discussion between the authors attracted close to 300 attendees. The book signing after the speech was very well attended, with the line stretching far into the distance. Everyone took advantage of this rare opportunity to interact closely with the funny and engaging Fidler. The event was filled with the wonderful feeling of reading as it came to a perfect end.