Command Influence by Robert A Shaines

Published by Outskirts Press

ISBN  978-1-4327-5068-8


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I was born during the Korean War and have always been interested in the subject.  This book explains the background to the conflict, and also the terrible conditions that the UN backed troops had to endure in the name of peacekeeping.

The author was a recently qualified lawyer in the US Air Force in 1952, and was told he was being posted to France, but somehow he landed in Korea!  Korea had been split in half after World War II, with the Soviet Union in charge of the north, while the south was controlled by the United States.

The story follows the case of Lieutenant George Schreiber, who was charged with murder, following the death of a Korean at the base he was stationed at.  The actual killing was carried out my one of his men, Thomas Kinder, whose defence was that the officer in charge, Schreiber, had ordered him to do it.  The case was brought some time after the actual event as, at the time, no action was deemed necessary.  The Korean had been caught inside the base, attempting to steal or cause damage, and had been injured when he resisted arrest.  He was later taken to be released outside the camp, which was the usual procedure with this type of occurrence.  Unfortunately, he was shot and killed after attacking the airman guarding him.

The court case was always slanted towards the prosecution, as the 'command influence' of the title was brought to bear.  The defence team fought valiantly for their client against heavy odds, and the detailed retelling of the case makes up the bulk of the book.  There is a lot of legalese but it is well worth reading to find out how the legal side of the US Air Force was operating in those days in a theatre of war.

An excellent book, and an enjoyable read, especially for history buffs and legal eagles!