The Power to Heal: Ancient Arts & Modern Medicine, by Rick Smolan, Phillip Moffit and Matthew Naythons, M.D. (Prentice Hall, $40). Healing around the world is shown in hundreds of color photographs. One vignette: flying doctor Anne Spoerry, a 71-year-old Frenchwoman, who treats thousands of nomadic tribesmen in northern Kenya through the Medicine by Air program of the Nairobi-based African Medical and Research Foundation. Of her work, she says, "There are no sacrifices and the rewards are unlimited." . . . A MEXICAN-AMERICAN:

Mexico: A Higher Vision -- An Aerial Journey From Past to Present, introduction by Carlos Fuentes, photography by Michael Calderwood (ALTI Publishing, $49.95). From sun-baked desert to emerald jungle, over Aztec ruins and past snow-capped volcanos, a magnificent overview of a country that seems to belong to an earlier, more elemental world. . . . AN ARCHITECT:

The American Country House, by Clive Aslet (Yale, $45) and The Architect & the American Country House, by Mark Alan Hewitt; photographs by Richard Cheek (Yale, $55). Vanderbilt barns and Rockefeller tennis courts and Dupont plumbing; gosh, those rich really knew how to live. . . . A WORLD WAR II VETERAN:

Images of War: The Artists' Vision of World War II, edited by Ken McCormick and Hamilton Darby Perry; foreword by John Hersey (St. Martin's, $65). The best, often haunting, work of official combat artists from the United States, Great Britain, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, the Soviet Union, Italy, Australia, New Zealand and Japan. . . . A HORSE LOVER:

Thoroughbred Kingdoms: Breeding Farms of the American Racehorse; photographs by Henry Horenstein; text by Carol Flake; foreword by Paul Mellon (Bulfinch, $50), and Power and Grace: The Working Horse, by Klaus Alvermann (Chronicle Books, $35). Thoroughbreds, Clydesdales, Percherons and Belgians. Stallions, mares and foals. Gorgeous. . . . A CHESS PLAYER:

Chess: An Illustrated History, by Raymond Keene (Simon and Schuster, $35) and Chess: A Celebration of 2,000 Years, by Roswin Finkenzeller, Wilhelm Ziehr and Emil M. Buhrer (Arcade/Little, Brown, $45). Gambits. . . . AN ITALIAN-AMERICAN:

A Day in the Life of Italy, photographed by 100 of the world's leading photojournalists on one day, April 27, 1990 (Collins, $45). When Henry James got to Rome for the first time, he wrote home, "At last, I live!" Here's why. . . . A FISHERMAN:

An Angler's Album: Fishing in Photography and Literature, by Charles H. Traub; introduction by Charles Kuralt (Rizzoli, $50). The big ones that (mostly) didn't get away. . . . A JEW:

The Talmud: The Steinsaltz Edition -- Volume II: Tractate Bava Metzia, Part II and Vol. III: Tractate Bava Metzia, Part III (Random House, $40 each until Dec. 31). Judaism's great book of the law and practice, beautifully printed and annotated and rendered into English for the first time. Volume I was published a year ago. . . . A MUSICIAN:

Mozart's Letters: An Illustrated Selection, translated from the German by Emily Anderson (Bulfinch Press/Little, Brown, $29.95). "Frankfurt, 15 October 1790 -- Dearest little Wife of My Heart! I have not yet received a reply to any of my letters . . . which makes me rather anxious. My concert took place at eleven o'clock this morning. It was a splendid success from the point of view of honour and glory, but a failure as far as money was concerned." . . . AN IRISH-AMERICAN:

Ireland in Poetry: With Paintings, Drawings, Photographs, and Other Works of Art, edited by Charles Sullivan (Abrams, $39.95). "Homer's people./ And wasn't I lucky, born with/ Boundaries floating, language still making/ Out of the broadlands where my fathers/ Tended their clouds of ewes." -- Padraic Fallon (1905-1974). . . . A MOVIE BUFF:

Great Hollywood Westerns, by Ted Sennett (Abrams/AFI Press, $60). The great American morality tales, and did you know that "Cimarron" (1931) was the only western to win an Academy Award for Best Picture? . . . A BIRDER:

Owls: Their Life and Behavior, text by Julio de la Torre; photographs by Art Wolfe; foreword by Roger Tory Peterson (Crown, $35). Beyond doubt, the best owl book in many a year; 175 color photographs of the these mysterious, enigmatic, magnificent creatures. . . . AN ANGLOPHILE:

Winston Churchill: His Life as a Painter -- A Memoir by His Daughter Mary Soames (Houghton Mifflin, $40). Sir Winston never had been in an art gallery until 1915 -- when he was 41. . . . A RUSSOPHILE:

Folk Art in the Soviet Union, by Tatyana Razina, Natalia Cherkasova and Alexander Kantsedikas (Abrams/Aurora, $49.50). From lacquer Palekh boxes to lacy peasant headresses, the enormous cultural diversity of the U.S.S.R. as revealed in its folk art is meticulously and beautifully illustrated.