The creator of ""Tales of Hoffman"" had been lauded everywhere he went in Europe but his journey to the New World to present a series of 30 concerts under the aegis of Grau started out inauspiciously. There was conflict of interest with the Centennial events in Philadelphia; his first concert in New York was a disappointment to an audience who wanted can-can and got grace and elegance. But one would not know this from Offenbach's own diary, which in rather naive terms records his impressions of the New World, from hotels, concert halls, public squares to vehicles, restaurants, women, restrictions on personal liberties, fire fighters, advertising, and the press. Most amusing today are his caustic comments on America and the arts- and his advice to an infant nation. Most characteristic are his comments on American cuisine- and the lack of proper atmosphere created by the casual, untrained service rendered. Not an important book but fun, and the Alajalov sketches will add to the jaunty tone.