cover image Touch the Sky

Touch the Sky

Harold Livingston. William Morrow & Company, $19.95 (432pp) ISBN 978-0-688-07719-8

An engaging storyteller, Livingston ( Ride a Tiger ) delivers a nicely detailed saga about the aviation industry, with background spanning the decades from WW I until the Korean War and the emergence of the jet age. Simon Conway, an often (refreshingly) unlikable antihero fascinated with flying from his youthful days in the Lafayette Escadrille, founds an airline and an aircraft manufacturing company. Key figures in his efforts are Karl Eisler, a German aviation ace with whom he engaged in a dogfight in the Great War and who serves as both his conscience and prod to his ambition; and Morris Tannen, who aids Conway in getting the fledgling company off the ground but later leaves the firm under unfortunate circumstances. A coincidence-marred subplot finds Conway's son Richard on a mission with the OSS to meet Eisler in a plan to assassinate Hitler. With its final historic moments encompassing the first skyjacking, this leisurely novel is an enjoyable read. (Apr.)