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High Endeavours: The Extraordinary Life and Adventures of Miles & Beryl Smeeton Paperback – May 28, 2002

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Miles and Beryl Smeeton were perhaps the most adventurous couple of the 20th century. Separately and together, they traveled around the world by boat and on foot along some of the most dangerous routes, trekking across China and sailing around Cape Horn. While the couple wrote several travel books, little has been written about their lives. Writer and photographer Miles Clark, who died in 1993, documented the couple's adventures in High Endeavours: The Extraordinary Life and Adventures of Miles and Beryl Smeeton, first published in Canada 10 years ago and now being released in the U.S. The biographical portrait incorporates some of the couple's own writings.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Greystone; 2nd Printing edition (May 28, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1550540580
  • ISBN-13: 978-1550540581
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.1 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,156,005 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Sammy Madison on March 30, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The subtitle of this book really sums it up: The Extraordinary Life and Adventures of Miles and Beryl Smeeton. Beryl was born in 1905. Miles was born in 1906. Their early lives were straight out of Rudyard Kipling. They both followed family tradition and were part of the British overseas military life. Beryl was not a shrinking violet. Her brother is quoted in the book as saying "she always regretted that she hadn't been born a man, and that was really what she was trying to make up for all her life. In everything she did- sports, riding, steeple-chasing- her motto was 'Anything you can do, I can do better.' She had this tremendous urge to surpass... She was quite fearless and would never rest or relax." Early in life she married a British officer and travelled with him to India. Beryl had many daring adventures in spite of the expectations of the time. She met and started an affair with Miles, a very tall and handsome younger officer, and her first husband let her go to pursue the life of adventure which she was destined for. Together, Beryl and Miles saw the end of the old British colonial system. The book contains fascinating stories of the "Lancers", which evolved to a tank corps. Miles learned to drive a tank and fly an airplane before he learned to drive an automobile. Beryl travelled extensively, often hiking up mountains in exotic locales, even after she gave birth to her daughter. The baby was lugged around by lackeys and natives, and often left behind to survive as best she could. Part of the more amusing stories in the book are about how cavalier a mother and how horribly bad a cook Beryl was. After Miles left the military, the two set out to explore the world on a sailing vessle, a whole new chapter to their life of adventure. Even in old age, the two continued to live remarkable lives. This book is really just riveting. It is one of the most exciting adventures I have ever read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jenifer Reinhardt on May 13, 2009
Format: Paperback
If you have read any of my other posts you know that thanks to the author of A Passage to Juneau I became curious about a couple named Miles and Beryl Smeeton. I followed up be reading 3 of Miles Smeeton's books about their travels together. They were all fascinating but they left me wanting to know more about the Miles and Beryl themselves.

As the author of those books Miles Smeeton was always self-deprecating when describing himself or his actions while he often wrote of his wife Beryl as the real hero in their stories. Also because his books most often described single voyages they were not helpful in understanding how these people came to be who they became. Thankfully Miles Clark tries to do that very thing in his book "High Endeavors, The Extraordinary life and adventures of Miles and Beryl Smeeton."

Penned in 1991 it is a deeply researched and compelling look at one of the most interesting couples of the 20th century. Miles Clark was born in England in 1960 and his Godfather was Miles Smeeton. Since the Smeetons were either traveling or in Canada most of the time the relationship between Godfather and Godson was mostly via the letters they exchanged. This did not prevent them from developing a lasting appreciation and respect for each other and this radiates throughout Clark's book.

As an adventure book it does not have the flavor of an "Into Thin Air" or even Smeeton's own "Once is Enough." It represents the entire story of these two interesting people from their childhoods until their deaths. Fortunately for we adventure book fanatics they spent their entire lives, whether alone or together, doing the most amazing things.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By secret squirrel on June 9, 2010
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This well-written and engaging book traces the 20th century lives of two unstoppable adventurers and free spirits, Miles and Beryl Smeeton. They are amazing and compelling figures, and the book floats easily along on their numerous outlandish accomplishments, portraying their lives in the British Army in India, their meritorious service in WWII, hiking, mountain-climbing, Beryl's remarkably independent backpacker-style trans-continental travels, their path-breaking years as ocean sailors, their struggles renovating a house and farming on Saltspring Island, British Columbia, and finally starting a wildlife center in Alberta. Any one of these parts of their lives would be a complete adventurous life for most mortals, so the totality of their achievements is really remarkable, and enjoyably well told in this thorough and fascinating account.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By homesteadlite on July 14, 2008
Format: Paperback
Think free spirits, think Miles & Beryl Smeeton. The ageless 'Can-Do' Couple. They inspired my dad in the 1950's with their seafaring adventures, and he gave me this book in 1999 with an inscription to follow my heart and dreams.

This is one of my favorite books of all time, as an inspiration to what can be achieved if you dare to think outside the box and never say "Never".

Fun read, heart-warming story about honest, pure, intelligent kindred spirits with a love for adventure on land and sea.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By EGR on August 13, 2011
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Loved this book. Beryl Smeeton was a truly amazing and strong woman. What a life she had. You will enjoy reading about her adventures with and without her husband.
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