In regards to the comments regarding West's feminist tendencies and her relationship with her husband, the current copy (at least the one I own), discusses a long-distance affair - at least one of emotional sorts - that she was having during the time of the trip, which led her to distance herself from her husband. Several letters and her personal diary that she kept on the trip were what later revealed this. The copy I own also tells who her husband actually was and that she was later married or partnered I believe with HG Wells (?) and had a son with him. I'm not certain though because I am actually living in Hungary at the moment and my copy is in the US... As a woman, I found West's variety of feminism rather refreshing (though it may seem dated to some) because it meets a truer form - and she has her own criticisms about women as well! Her observations on this level often made me laugh out loud - so maybe you have to be a woman to understand some of these tangeants - though I'd hate to pose a gender bias on these few pieces of herself that she reveals to us. In my mind, she is a refined yet critical woman.
I've seen it noted in several comments that West wrote this book based on a 6 week tour - and would like to correct that indication, that her inital visit was a 6 week tour and she was so enthralled with the region and knew she wanted to write the book, so she specifically went back a year or two later for a period of 3 months to immerse herself further and build upon or correct her first impressions. This 3 month period is the time period that we are privy to in her travel-documentary-historiographical piece and is also distinguished in the preface of the copy I own. (I bought it at Borders but it's the same one that appears above. I too first heard of this book by reading Kaplan's "Balkan Ghosts" and finally had to get this book. I am just as enthralled with it as Kaplan was.)
While it seems that the commentator above lived in the region directly corresponding to the fall of communism, I must stress that young people today (20 years later) are much more enthused to hear about this book if they haven't already read it. Though I'm living in Hungary, I have interactions with many young people from the region. West IS a bit biased - the largest bias is noted also in a commentary in the preface of the book of West's preference for Serb nationalism and sentiments that lean towards their favor - this of course was before the 90's war. However, I find this extremely helpful because people by nature have preferences. When you understand the passions that underlie the tensions in the region, it makes current events so much more lucid in their current renderings not for their poignant atrocities against mankind (on multiple sides) but for the histories that lies beneath this exacerbation.
Here is my comment on the book that I've posted on the Border's website:
"Rebecca West captures the imagery and vitality of the diverse peoples and complex histories that are the Balkans. Yugoslavia has never been the same as it was in the time she wrote it but her book engages, allures and entices one to experience it all first-hand, and seek it out today. Her descriptions make you smell the mountain air, taste the spray of the sea and feel the passion of the people you meet. Dynamic, brilliant, she brings forth culture and history to the understanding needed in the present, as much today as then, giving her own academic travel-documentary flair - she is academic - but she is writing a journal so to speak, taking you on journeys of her own and journeys that began long before her time. She never encountered Communism in practice in Yugoslavia (as this is pre-WWII), so there is an optimism of the political ideologies there, but she draws you to the unspoilt world of cultural crossroads before the tragedies of the 20th century - do not mistake that the Balkans are full of tragedies, all with their own histories, but they so beautiful and pure in her depiction. She offers us a perspective to greater understanding to histories that are no longer taught, the bigger history of Europe and perhaps ourselves, enlarging the history we know, always with philosophical intorspection. It is also impossible to comprehend the work she succeeded without the resources we have today. Fully and beautifully alive with wit, humor, tact, truth, history, scenery and the experience of the people themselves - Truly Enjoy!!!"