On 20 June 1900, Baron von Ketteler, the German Minister, was assassinated in a Peking street. By 4pm the first shots were fired into the legation quarter and the siege of foreigners by Boxers and imperial troops had begun. Among the besieged were 148 women from America, Europe, Russia and Japan and Maud, the Baron's American widow. What were their experiences? How did they cope with their 79 children for two months, without enough to eat, often under fire? This book tells their story - of courage, grief, humour, friendship, ill-health, and hard work - mostly through their own accounts. It identifies the women for the first time as individuals: missionary teachers and doctors, "globe trotters", and the wives of diplomats, officials, railway engineers, merchants, bankers and the owner of the Peking Hotel.