An atomic bomb exploded over the Japanese city of Nagasaki 75 years ago on August 9, 1945, and as many as 90,000 people would die, nearly all of them civilians.
Yet once again this August almost all media, official and public attention has focused on Hiroshima, site of the first atomic blast three days earlier. The attack on Nagasaki, however, was in many ways even more appalling—and revealing.
“Dropping the bomb on Hiroshima was a mistake,” Samuel I. Allison, one of the leading Manhattan Project scientists at the Met Lab in Chicago, declared years later. “Dropping the bomb on Nagasaki was an atrocity.” Indeed, some of the scientists who celebrated the Hiroshima bomb they helped invent at the Los Alamos laboratory would claim they felt physically sick on learning of the second attack. Telford Taylor, chief prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials for Nazi war criminals, asserted that while the “rights and wrong of Hiroshima are debatable” he had “never heard a plausible justification of Nagasaki.”