Dr. Crane was born in Cambridge, MA. In 1945, at the age of 16, he entered Harvard University to study Russian as the first step in becoming an international journalist. In 1948, he became the first American permitted to study at a university in Occupied Germany, having been accepted at the University of Munich. There he studied the sociology of religion and prepared a book on the phenomenon of totalitarian ideology and on the spiritual dynamics of resistance against it. As a result of “field work” with the anti-Communist underground in Eastern Europe, he celebrated his twentieth birthday as a prisoner in Stalin’s Gulag Archipelago.
Upon his return to the United States, Dr. Crane got his B.A. from Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, in 1956, graduating summa cum laude, with majors in political science, economic planning and Sino-Soviet studies. He went on to obtain his J.D. from Harvard Law School, Cambridge, MA in 1959 with specialty in comparative legal systems and international investment. His thesis was titled "The Accommodation of Ethics in International Commercial Arbitration" and was published in the Arbitration Journal, Fall 1959. At Harvard, he also founded the Harvard International Law Journal and acted as the first president of the Harvard International Law Society.
Dr. Crane was admitted to the District of Columbia Bar in 1960.
In 1962, Dr. Crane became one of the four co-founders of the first Washington-based foreign-policy think-tank, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). In 1966, he left to become Director of Third World Studies at the first professional futures forecasting center, The Hudson Institute, led by Herman Kahn.
From the time of the Cuban missile crisis in 1962 until the beginning of Richard Nixon’s victorious campaign for the presidency in 1967, Dr. Crane was a foreign policy adviser, responsible for preparing a “reader's digest” of professional articles for him on the key foreign policy issues. During the campaign, Dr. Crane collected his position papers into a book, Inescapable Rendezvous: New Directions for American Foreign Policy, with a foreword by Congressman Gerald Ford, who succeeded Nixon as President.
On January 20, 1969, Dr. Crane moved into the White House as Deputy Director (for Planning) of the National Security Council. The next day, the Director, Henry Kissinger, fired him because they differed on key foreign policy issues.
In 1977-78 he spent a year as Principal Economic and Budget Adviser to the Finance Minister in the Emirate of Bahrain.
In September 1981, President Ronald Reagan appointed Dr. Crane to be U.S. ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, but this also was short-lived. President Reagan’s friend, Judge William Clark, who became Director of the National Security Council, wanted Crane, as the first Muslim American ambassador, to pursue two-track diplomacy by developing relations with the various Islamist movements in the Middle East and North Africa. The new Secretary of State, Alexander Haig, did not agree with this policy and had him fired.
From the early 1980s, Dr. Crane has worked full-time as a Muslim activist in America. From 1983 to 1986, he was the Director of Da’wa at the Islamic Center on Massachusetts Avenue in Washington, D.C. In 1986 he joined the International Institute of Islamic Thought as its Director of Publications, and then helped to found the American Muslim Council, serving as Director of its Legal Division from 1992 to 1994.
From 1994 until the present time he has headed his own research centers and cooperated with others, including the United Association for Studies and Research, for whose house-organ, The Middle East Affairs Journal, he was Managing Editor from 1996 to 2000. He is also a founding editor for the online magazine The American Muslim, in which he has contributed a regular column since its establishment in 1989.
Dr. Crane was also the founding President of the American Muslim Bar Association in 1993.
His hobbies include long- distance running and mountaineering. He is bi-lingual in English and German, is fluent and was once almost bi-lingual in Russian and Spanish, has some knowledge of French and Latin, and has been studying Arabic for more than thirty years.
His more than a dozen authored or co-authored books include:
These books have been augmented by numerous monographs, including the following produced under the Islamic Institute for Strategic Studies before the September 11, 2001 attacks: