At the ripe age of 24, Herbert Hoover went to China to develop coal mines and build port facilities. On his arrival, however, Chinese officials told him to find gold - fast. Hoo-Yah and Hoo-Lou (Bert and Lou's Chinese names) found themselves in a land only reluctantly opening its doors to Western technology, expertise - and arrogance. Hoover's exalted status forced him to travel in state with hundreds of mules, ponies, soldiers, and a translator whose fractured English led him to announce each bit of bad news with the phrase that soon became his nickname - "Really Damn."
Rumors soon spread of a great foreign mandarin whose green eyes allowed him to see through the ground to find gold.
Hoover did battle with bedbugs and a manager who smoked opium until he was pale. He met a living Buddha who rode a bicycle around a Tibetan Lamasery. One Christmas Day he taught the game of football to a crowd of barefooted children.
Early in 1900 a wave of anti-western feeling swept China. Peking reformers were overthrown and a nativist group calling itself "I Ho Tuan," or the Boxers, laid siege to the western colony in Tientsen.