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

5.0 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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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 (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #845,110 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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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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Format: Paperback
I saw High Endeavors first recommended by a couple of sailing magazines and picked up a copy.
The book goes far beyond a sailing adventure, which is a component of this couple's lives but by no means the whole story.
Miles Clark, the author, is the stepson of Miles and Beryl Smeeton, the subjects of the book. He has told this story with as much accuracy as records and personal experience would provide, along with the affection of a loving son who knew this story had to be told.
It's really about Beryl. She walks/trains/hitches across India, through the Middle East, Europe and back t the UK. In the 30's!
Later she decides that she has to ride horseback through Patagonia, by herself.
During WW II they served separately in Asia, ending up together in Burhma.
It is only after Miles retires from the Army that they bought a sailboat and set out for British Columbia.
Just an amazing story and it's true!
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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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This book has been one of my favorites over the last 20+ years of reading adventures stories. I often order it and give it to friends as an inspiring gift. Overall, the story is an amazing example of two people who took on incredibly arduous and difficult adventures and travels over their entire lives and never succumbed to "the relaxed and normal" living style so many of us find ourselves in. Definitely recommend this book for people who enjoy adventure/travel books, as well as those who don't mind a touch of romantic as this book is also about The Smeeton's life-long relationship. Well-written, hard to put down, and incredibly inspiring to live big and live full.
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