Uwe Timm was born in 1940 in Hamburg; one of his early memories is the firestorm unleashed on Hamburg by phosphorus bombs dropped by the Allies in 1943. Eighty percent of the city was destroyed. He recalls the air-raid shelter that his mother and his sister carried him to: an old man weeping; a woman with a birdcage; one of the birds lying on its back. And a fact that he learned later: “No Jews were allowed in the air-raid shelter.” Timm was two years old when his big brother Karl-Heinz, who was eighteen, joined the Death’s Head Division and went to the front in Ukraine. His only memory of Karl-Heinz appears on the first page of In My Brother’s Shadow, translated by Anthea Bell (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), in a beautiful and ghostly paragraph (a blur of fair hair, a lifting, a floating). Karl-Heinz died a few months later from wounds received in battle; he was buried in Hero’s Grave L 302 at Snamenka, and ever since he has been Timm’s absent big brother, a “brave boy” who has never come home. This small, wonderful book is an account of a big brother’s life, and hence of that war and the crimes of that war, drawn from a little brother’s memories and nightmares, a few letters and a sparse diary that Karl-Heinz kept at the front, the last dated entry of which reads: “6 August. Still moving on.” According to the jacket blurb, Uwe Timm is “one of Germany’s greatest writers.” This book supports that claim.