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In 2004, 34 men, women, and children stepped out of a Southeast Asian rainforest and presented themselves as refugees from violence engulfing their native Cambodia. They did not know that the war they were fleeing had in fact ended - 25 years earlier. Corinne Purtill was one of the first journalists to meet the families upon their incredible return to society. Years later, she returned to Cambodia to learn the truth about their time on the run. What she found was a darker and more complicated tale than the one they first shared, a story of terror, isolation, fierce loyalty, appalling choices, and murder. The result is a story that examines the unyielding human need for family and connection and the meaning of survival.
Corinne Purtill is a journalist who has reported around the world for publications including Quartz, GlobalPost, CNN, Salon and the Cambodia Daily. She lives in California with her family.