THE DALLAS COWBOYS: An Illustrated History, by Richard Whittingham (Harper & Row, $20.95). Who says Tom Landry doesn't smile? There he is on page 124, laughing his head off. Of course, his Cowboys have just won the Super Bowl. And there he is again, in the eight-page color-photo section, happily cradling the winners' trophy at Super Bowl XIII. But the picture was taken the day before the game--Landry is a happy, willing cog in the Super Bowl hype machine. The next day, the trophy went to the Steelers and the look on Landry's face presumably was the more familiar grim countenance seen weekly on the Cowboys' sideline. Believe it or not, Landry once had good reason for his doomsday visage. The so-called "America's Team" once was awful (0-11-1 in its first season), when Don Meredith was a rookie and didn't look so dandy in a crewcut. The Dallas cheerleaders, circa 1961-62, actually wore blouses that buttoned at the neck and wrists. Now that's history.
HORSE RACING: The Complete Guide to the World of the Turf, edited by Ivor Herbert (St. Martin's, $40). An elegantly illustrated reference work on the international sport. It includes the history of racing, a long principal section on the current "world of racing" (thoroughly covering owners, trainers, jockeys, breeders and administrators), the great courses of the world and great horses of the past two to three decades. Training routines and veterinary topics attest to the detail. The range is sweeping: from Disraeli ("A dark horse which had never been thought of . . . rushed passed the grandstand to sweeping triumph") to such contemporary scenes as Ascot and Aqueduct.
THE GREAT FIGHTS: A Pictorial History of Boxing's Greatest Bouts, by Bert Randolph Sugar and the editors of The Ring magazine (The Rutledge Press, $14.95). A look at 39 famous fights, beginning with John L. Sullivan-Jake Kilrain (the last championship bare-knuckle fight, won by Sullivan after 75 rounds when "Kilrain's head was rolling loosely on his shoulders"), to the Sugar Ray Leonard era. After Robert Fitzsimmons walloped James J. Corbett with his "solar plexus" blow, he looked down at his flattened foe and yelled, "How do you like the view from there, you son- of-a-bitch?" The brutality, and beauty, of the sport are epitomized by photos of Walcott's twisted face as it is crunched by Marciano, an exhausted Pep, the bleeding Basilio, a graceful Robinson, Archie Moore getting up to win.
THE ULTIMATE FISHING BOOK, edited by Lee Eisenberg and DeCourcy Taylor (Houghton Mifflin, $35). Worthy successor to Houghton Mifflin's The Ultimate Baseball Book, the fishing edition combines fine writing, largely in nine essays commissioned for the book, and a lush mix of fishing art from Winslow Homer to drawings from old fishing catalogues to a photograph of Hemingway as a young fisherman. Gentle stories of fathers and sons casting and reeling and just sitting together, verify an observation by Arnold Gingrich, founder of Esquire and an avid fisherman: that the fishing itself often is the least important thing about fishing. Gingrich also observed that some of the best fishing is done in print, and he has been proven right again.
TOTAL GOLF, by Thomas C. Simek and Richard M. O'Brien (Doubleday, $14.95). Instructional golf books are reminiscent of blind dates: maybe the next one. But if your psyche can stand one more "revolutionary" approach to the game, this could be it. The authors, both clinical psychologists (one with a two handicap), make sense in advocating a green-to-tee learning approach: mastering first the 10-inch putt and working back 23 steps through chipping, pitching, long iron shots and, finally, driving. In the second half of the book, "the psychological side of golf," the authors suggest ways to control emotions and combat "irrational beliefs." (Irrational belief No. 5: "Your emotions are completely beyond your control".) It's easier to hit a long iron successfully.
THE TENNIS BOOK, edited by Michael Bartlett and Bob Gillen (Arbor House, $19.95). A delight and success as a collection if for no other reason than the inclusion of a brief portion of John McPhee's "Levels of the Game," the double profile of Arthur Ashe and Clark Graebner joined by their 1968 U.S. Open semifinal meeting. But there is much other eloquent writing, from Herbert Warren Wind, Roger Angell, Frank Deford, Paul Theroux and many others, and an orderly presentation of tennis' dramatic, often tumultuous, transition from stuffy club sport to mass entertainment.
CHAMPIONS OF AMERICAN SPORT, written and edited by Marc Pachter et al. (Abrams, $35). Giants who trod the earth are extolled in a celebration that is a companion piece to the show last summer at the National Portrait Gallery. A hundred biographies and about 250 pictures chronicle some of the most famous figures from 16 sports. Andy Warhol's acrylic and silkscreen portraits of O.J. Simpson and Kareem Abdul- Jabbar serve as counterpoints to wonderful old photographs of Rockne, Ruth and others. Merv Corning's watercolor of a pensive John Unitas is as elegant a work as there is in the book.
MASTERING THE MOUNTAIN, by Walt Snellman (Ziff-Davis, $16.95). A step-by-step, illustrated technique book. After a section on selecting equipment and adjusting to environment, the instruction begins with a novice's fear of injury and one's first motions on skis and moves systematically through easy, intermediate and difficult runs. The author is not concerned with "mind improvement" but practical matters, of which there is something for most skiers, no matter their level.