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Heir to a Chicago plumbing company fortune, he lived a life so adventurous that he was the prototype for characters in at least three thrillers. Seldom seen on the public stage, he changed the course of history: once when he intervened with his friend Woodrow Wilson on behalf of another friend, Thomas G. Masaryk, to create a new nation, Czechoslovakia, and again when he sent a geologist to his friend Ibn Saud to prospect the Arabian sands for oil. Mostly, though, he was a man who used his money to help those in whom he believed. Wherever he was, in Bokhara or Baghdad, in the deserts or in the cities, Charles R. Crane carried with him a little black notebook. He would jot down the name of someone whose dream had impressed him — an artist, a would-be statesman, a rescuer of children trapped in Russia´s Civil War, an explorer — and an unexpected check would arrive weeks or months later to help that dream toward reality. In his later years Crane created a foundation, the Institute of Current World Affairs, which for seventy-five years has been carrying on his work of helping promising individuals to make the most of what is in them. Today, when fortunes of record size are being made in record numbers, Crane´s story tells us how one man of vision used his wealth to help make real the visions of others.

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