790px-Victim_of_Atomic_Bomb_002

Today marks the 65th anniversary of the United States dropping an atom bomb on Nagasaki, killing 74,000 people and precipitating the end of World War II. James Poulos reacts to a Japanese gentleman who wants an apology:

I confess the purpose escapes me of an official apology for the atom bombing of Japan. "We're sorry we didn't follow through with plans for a massively bloody and protracted invasion of Japan, accompanied, as no doubt it would be, by conventional carpet bombings and city-wide firestorms." Hmm. "We're sorry that you proved so unwilling to surrender Iwo Jima and Okinawa that we thought twice about how to win the war of aggression that you started against us." Could enlist the support of our customer service industry? "We're sorry that you feel that way." Atomic warfare is obviously horrific, and we should all be very pleased that Hiroshima and Nagasaki were the last of it. But apologies mean the guilty party should've done something else, because that something else would have been better for everyone.

Robert Fisk argues toward a very different conclusion. Life has photos. And most astonishing is this surreal story about how a survivor of the Hiroshima blast met the pilot of the Enola Gay during a stunt on national television.

(Photo: one of the burnt victims of Hiroshima.)

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.