Craig Lanier Allen
May 2, 1967- June 23, 2022
With great sadness, we share the passing of Craig Lanier Allen, PhD, Lt. Col. USAF (ret.), on
June 23, 2022, at his home in St Leonard, MD.
Craig Lanier Allen (1967-2022) was a man of innumerable talents and interests, a respected leader,
devoted father, cherished partner, thoughtful and generous friend. He served his country with
distinction as Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Air Force, and as a historian, he offered a
clear-eyed view of its strengths and flaws. His love of learning, keen appreciation of others, and
infectious appetite for life had an impact on all who knew him.
Born to Jerelene Walton and Charles Lee Allen, Craig formed his first memories in Pittsburgh, PA,
where he learned to root for his beloved Pirates. During his early years, the family also lived in
the Washington, DC area and in Los Angeles, CA. Summers were spent with family in Elberton and
Augusta, Georgia. Craig became an international citizen as the family moved to embassy postings in
Antananarivo, Tegucigalpa, and Lima. He attended the British-Peruvian high school at Markham
College and graduated stateside from Thomas Stone High School in Waldorf, MD.
As a student at The Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina, Craig was recognized as a
Distinguished Air Force Cadet in the ROTC, and was selected to be commander of November Company,
responsible for the training and discipline of 110 cadets. He forged lasting friendships in this
tight-knit community, and he also took up fencing (saber), which remained a life-long passion
Commissioned into the U.S. Air Force in 1990, he trained to become a Special Agent in the highly
selective Office of Special Investigations (OSI), starting out as a criminal investigator and
moving quickly into the realm of counterintelligence. His keen intellect, broad outlook, and
ability to connect easily with people of all backgrounds drew respect and admiration from both his
staff and superiors. As a French and Latin American Foreign Area Specialist, he held postings in
Seoul, Panama, Sarajevo, and Paris, where he worked with international colleagues to identify and
deter terrorist threats around the world. He became the OSI liaison to the FBI at a time when
interagency cooperation was critical to US national security. In Paris, his final posting abroad,
he found the spark that ignited a second career as a historian.
Craig held a M.A. in Latin American Studies from the University of California, Los Angeles, and a
Ph.D. in American Studies from the George Washington University in Washington, DC. His
dissertation, “Spies Spying on Spies Spying: The Café Tournon and the Specter of Surveillance in
Postwar American Literary Expatriate Paris, 1953-1958,” was an innovative exploration of American
intelligence-gathering practices targeting the community of American writers living and working in
postwar Paris. At the time of his passing, Craig was working on a book situating the Café Tournon
as a place of interwar exile, wartime resistance, and Cold War surveillance. He had also recently
launched the Center for the Study of American Exile & Expatriation (CSAEE), an academic, non-profit
organization dedicated to the historical study of Americans who made their lives abroad.
An award-winning teacher and an interdisciplinarian by training, Craig championed a history
grounded in facts and exacting attention to detail. He had an uncanny ability to synthesize large
volumes of information, and to highlight connecting threads in music, literature, history, and
politics. In post-doctoral positions at Case Western Reserve University and New York University, he
developed and taught courses on European café culture, Parisian urban history, the Cold War in
American fiction, and the history of espionage in film. At NYU since 2020, he also served as
Assistant Director of the Public Humanities Initiative in Doctoral Education, where he trained and
connected scholars with practitioners outside of academia.
Above all else, Craig was a doting father to his four children, Gabriella, Berengere, Madeleine and
Matthieu. He engaged deeply with each one, nurturing budding interests in pirates, film, sailing or
soccer, and providing instruction, an inquisitive mind, and a strong toolset to support all new
endeavors. When at a distance, he made his presence felt via calls and texts. At home, he
cultivated comfort, watching sports and movies, sharing meals, and always turning on music.
Craig lived life richly and fully. He enjoyed the bustle of Paris and New York but retreated to the
shores of the Chesapeake Bay for rest and reflection. A music lover, a gifted conversationalist,
and a talented cook, he was a consummate and attentive host to all who visited. He set the tune to
the classics, Earth Wind and Fire, Kurt Elling, Steely Dan, and introduced new sounds as he
discovered them. He was always ready to steam Maryland blue crabs and was a master oyster shucker.
For special occasions, he turned out a perfect cassoulet or delicate pulpo al olivo. Craig’s love
for life was infectious. He will be deeply missed.
He is survived by his children Gabriella, Berengere, Madeleine and Matthieu Allen, his father
Charles Allen, siblings Tim Allen and Kimberly Allen Jackson, and many extended family and friends
with whom he shared close bonds.
Saturday, July 30, 2022