Born in London, Crankshaw was educated in the Nonconformist public school, Bishop's Stortford College, Hertfordshire, England. He started working as a journalist for a few months at The Times. In the 1930s he lived in Vienna, Austria, teaching English and learning German. He witnessed Adolf Hitler's Austro-German union in 1938, and predicted the Second World War while living there.
In 1940 Crankshaw was contacted by the Secret Intelligence Service because of his knowledge of German. During World War II Crankshaw served as a 'Y' (Signals Intelligence) officer in the British Army. From 1941 to 1943 he was assigned to the British Military Mission in Moscow, where he served initially as an Army 'Y' specialist and later as the accredited representative of the British 'Y' services, rising to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. Following a breakdown in 'Y' cooperation with the Soviet General Staff in December 1942, the British 'Y' Board recalled Crankshaw to London in February 1943. In May he was assigned to Bletchley Park, where he served as a liaison officer on matters pertaining to Russia.
From 1947 to 1968 he worked for the British newspaper The Observer. He died in 1984 in Hawkhurst, Kent.
Crankshaw wrote around 40 books on Austrian, (Vienna; Vienna, the Image of a Culture in Decline; Fall of the House of Habsburg; Gestapo. Instrument of Tyranny; Maria Theresa; Bismarck; The Habsburgs: a dynasty...) and Russian subjects, (Britain and Russia; Putting up with the Russians; Tolstoy: The making of a novelist; Russia without Stalin; The Shadow of the Winter Palace: Russia's Drift to Revolution, 1825–1917; Khrushchev; Khrushchev Remembers; The New Cold War, Moscow vs. Pekin; preface to Grigory Klimov's The Terror Machine).
eBook Krushchev Remembers