Laugh and Tough it Out: How Sam Underwood met triumph and disaster in a distinguished medical career in Malaysia
Inspirational – lots of laughs – provocative
About the book:
Sam Underwood was born into a Tamil family in the old Ceylon. He grew up at Penang in the old Malaya under British rule and dreamed of becoming the best medical doctor he could possibly be. His life was dramatically changed by his very personal encounters with the Japanese Occupation during the War and by the Communist insurgency after the War. His life too was vitally impacted by the remarkable transformation of the old Malaya into the fully independent nation of Malaysia in 1957.
Despite the odds stacked against him and several remarkable escapes from the jaws of death, Sam went on to master seven languages and to become the royal physician to three successive Sultans. He also received the highest awards from the Sultan of Perak and the Emperor of Japan for his remarkable humanitarian work.
Sam exemplified this immortal line from Kipling, “If you can meet with triumph and disaster, and treat those two imposters just the same…”
From a most unlikely source – a Japanese military officer – Sam was inspired by the motto, warai ganbare (laugh and tough it out), no matter what the circumstances of his life. It is for this reason that this inspirational little book about his remarkable life is sprinkled with a lot of Sam’s laughter and jokes. This eminent octogenarian is not riding peacefully off into the sunset, however, because some of his reflections on racial and religious issues are provocative. Sam’s only daughter and grandchildren are Australians.
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Was very easy to read and finished it no time. A very humbling and inspiring story, makes you want to follow Sam's footsteps ; he lived a simple life and what Sam learnt in life from others he returned to those who are less privileged and expecting nothing in return but to also continue the legacy. Also Sam never forgot the sense of humour in life. I encourage you to read, learn and be part of Sam's journey.
Amazing story, indeed. In spite of many challenges, my life has been so easy by comparison. Sam's challenging story is truly an inspiration.
Great reading, well-written life-story! It brings Sam to life. I love his sense of humour… his survival skills, courage, intelligence, self-discipline and achievements are all inspiring, as well as laudable. I've been reading excerpts to my children.
… a great story of a remarkable man who overcame so many adversities with a great sense of humour. A spendid read, and the jokes are a bonus.
I have enjoyed this book immensely and you managed to endear Sam to the reader, no doubt about that. The humour injections are a fantastic device. Sam's complaint about the treatment of minorities in Malaysia is one that many the world over will identify with. I certainly can. And the problem of 'affirmative action' is a tricky one. All that the Malaysian case shows is that once a people get a taste of power, they want more of it. And that holds true everywhere...I liked Sam's honesty. His problematic love-life is wistful and admirable in its honesty. A real strength of his character and the book is his openness about his relationship with the Japanese - that struck me as a self-transcendent moment. Finally, as someone who is faced daily with the oppression of self-censorship in the face of a Leviathan militarised state, I find Sam's advice to 'laugh and tough it out' is a perfect tonic. It defeats Hobbesian-ism hands down.
I really enjoyed reading Laugh and Tough it Out. I don't read books a lot, but when I started reading this book, I didn't want to stop. It's one of those books that you can't wait to see how it ends. I liked the jokes too.