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Goodreads asked Robert Carmichael:

Where did you get the idea for your most recent book?

Robert Carmichael I had returned to Cambodia to cover the 2009 war crimes trial of Comrade Duch, the former head of the Khmer Rouge's secret prison S-21, where more than 12,000 so-called enemies of the revolution were taken to be tortured and then executed.

I met Neary - the daughter of one man imprisoned at S-21 in 1977 - quite by accident in Phnom Penh in early 2009. Neary and her mother, Martine, had come to Cambodia to see the start of Duch's trial.

They returned several times that year, including to testify against him, and as the year went by it became apparent that their family's story (they are French) could provide a bridge between a Western audience and a crime of extraordinary magnitude - what happened to the people of Cambodian was one of the crimes of the 20th century, yet its causes and consequences remain little known or misunderstood.

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