This report in from Greg Castanias ’87 (pictured here), a member of the Wabash alumni board.
“Last night, I had dinner with Frederick Whitmer ’69 here in Manhattan. I had never met Frederick in person until last night, but we have carried on a sporadic e-mail “conversation” over the last year and a half, ever since I learned about Frederick and his new book, Litigation is War, which was covered in the Grunge Report in June 2007. After I read the Grunge Report entry, I e-mailed him to introduce myself to him and congratulate him on the book, which I promptly ordered and then devoured. (I was writing my own book at the time, for the same publisher, so I was also able to learn from his experiences there as well.) Litigation is War is an amazing book — it’s a guide to litigation strategy based on Clausewitz’s On War — and it is the work of a Wabash man through and through: Frederick has taken his interest in German history, his vast knowledge of and experience with litigation tactics, and brought them together. And he did so in a way that provides greater insights into both Clausewitz and the practice of law. I keep it on my desk.
So last night, we met up at Bobby Flay’s place here in Manhattan, Mesa Grill, and despite the fact that we had never met in person, it was like two old friends catching up. In particular, we talked a lot about the influence that Professor Barnes had on both of us (J.J. and Patience — “a woman named by God himself,” said Frederick — were mentors to Frederick when he was at Wabash; Professor Barnes was my very first Wabash professor — he taught a Freshman Tutorial called “The Historian as Detective,” which introduced me to the toolkit used by historians). Our careers have taken us in parallel paths — he, a History major, and I, an English and Philosophy major, both find ourselves litigating highly technical intellectual property cases. We both were sufficiently inspired by our Wabash professors that we are teachers and authors in our profession; even though both of us came close to taking a purely academic route out of Wabash, neither of us ultimately did. It was a great dinner and an even better conversation — Frederick was supposed to be on a 9:05 train to DC, but when faced with the possibility of desert, a third martini, and some more conversation, he decided — and I quickly agreed — that he could take the 10:05 train. We toasted the fame of her honored name, and the honors won by each loyal son, and three hours and three martinis after dinner began, I was pleased to say that I have a new old friend, and he’s Some Little Giant.”