Aspirin, safety glass, detergent, herbicides, auto grilles and Wear-Dated shorts--all the myriad by-products of our business civilization--are fabricated from basic materials supplied by a comparatively few multi-national companies. This history of one of them, Monsanto, (named for the wife of the Founding Father) traces the growth of a typically American presence over three-quarters of a century. Still headquartered in St. Louis where it was quietly launched in 1901 to formulate just one product, saccharin, Monsanto now encompasses hundreds of diverse plants, offices, subsidiaries, and affiliates. The parade of acquisitions and the ever-growing product line are detailed by Forrestal, retired Director of Public Relations, who clearly believes in the pre-eminent value of corporate communication. Though he sometimes seems to consider the annual report as original source material, some corporate failures as well as one authentic disaster are described with sympathetic simplicity. And if the multiplicity of managerial realignments, the excess of corporate nomenclature, the peerless leaders (followed by Master Salesmen sporting their coveted award blazers) start to look like sodden Astroturf, the monolith nevertheless takes on a certain humanity. Perhaps it's the honest fealty to the late Edgar Monsanto Queeny, son of the Founder, and a mite reactionary, or maybe it's the tale of the executive who installed a fourposter bed as the principal furnishing of his office. Unmentioned: the recent FDA ban on Monsanto's soft drink bottles, the generally scant ethnic diversity of names in the appended list of senior management, or the question of commercial bribery overseas. The process continues.