THE GREAT FATHER: The United States Government and the American Indians, by Francis Paul Prucha, S.J. (University of Nebraska Press, $60, two volumes, slipcased). Father Prucha, who teaches history at Marquette University, is a leading authority on Indian-White relations in the United States. This massive work (1,257 pages), the first comprehensive history of the relations between the federal government and Native Americans, is the masterwork toward which he has been heading in 17 previous books. Two centuries of a frequently tragic relationship are narrated in detail, and the actual workings of policy formulations -- removal, paternalism, segregation, assimilation, trusteeship -- are explored against a living background of treaties, reservations, schools, churches, exploitation and massacres. The prose is clam and judicious, no mean feat in a subject surrounded by emotional and exaggerated rhetoric. This is a book for the specialist in American history. GREAT RACEHORSES IN ART, by John Fairley (University of Kentucky Press, $65). How wonderful to own a painting of one's horse winning the Derby! For two centuries those aristocrats and millionaires fortunate enough to play the sport of kings have liberally bestowed artistic commissions in the winner's circle. Since, after all, there are few if any animals more beautiful than a Thoroughbred horse, we common folk may admire the result in this lavishly illustrated book, which depicts the great horses of England and America as depicted by contemporary artists. Though we admire the paintings of Secretariat and Seattle Slew, the last Triple Crown winners, we're bowled over by George Stubbs's 18th-century portraits of Mambrino and Whistlejacket. An interesting feature of this work is lists of winners of the classic English and American race meetings and genealogical charts of selective blood lines. ASSYRIAN SCULPTURE, by Julian Reade, CLOCKS AND WATCHED, by Hugh Tait, EGYPTIAN MUMMIES, by Carol Andrews, EGYPTIAN SCULPTURE, by T. G. H. James and W. V. Davies, THE ELGIN MARBLES, by B. F. Cook, and ROMAN BRITIAN, by T. W. Potter (Harvard University Press, paperback, $6.95 each).

This distinguished series of British Museum books is now published on this side of the Atlantic. Although designed as guidebooks to the B.M.'s incomparable holdings in the indicated areas, the books are equally informative as introductions to the civilizations of antiquity (and, in the case of the clock book, to 16th-, 17th- and 18th-century tinkering). The guides are profusely illustrated in full color, and each knowledgeable text is by a curator of a British Museum collection. Interests will differ but inquisitive boys (from 9 on) will no doubt be captivated by the mummy book, and even adults may be surprised to learn there that a resin-embalmed mummy "generally speaking, will last forever." But all of the books have their rewards (including a reasonable price tag), though the illustrations in the Assyrian sculpture and Elgin Marble books are especially beautiful. THE TIMES OF WORLD HISTORY: Revised Edition, edited by Geoffrey Barraclough (Hammond, $75). This is a revision of the 1978 historical atlas published by The Times of London, and it is a dandy. There are 600 full color maps, 300,000 words of text, and 126 double-page spreads on major historical themes (imperialism, world religions, trade routes, etc.), all prepared on the best scholarly advice. Moreover, the visual presentation -- the design of maps and the agreement of the text with the graphics -- is excellent.