Unsurprisingly for a documentary distributed by PBS, Stanley Nelson'sThe Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolutionis a straightforward history lesson. Not that straightforward is bad, and the picture does a good job of summarizing a complex subject, one that's as relevant as ever: the response of the black community to harassment and marginalization. Through plenty of archival footage, as well as new interviews with former Panthers, police, and FBI agents,Vanguard of the Revolutioncharts the rise and fall of the Black Panther movement from the late 1960s to its disintegration in the 1970s. This collapse was caused by both the clashing egos of its leaders and subterfuge by the FBI, whose leader J. Edgar Hoover called the Panthers the greatest threat to America and lived in fear of the rise of a black messiah. (A second black messiah, anyway.)The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolutioncovers all the important bases, while also suggesting other places for future documentarians to go, such as Hoover's COINTELPRO operations (the infamous and quite fake Black Panther Coloring Book is not mentioned), as well as the role of women in the self-consciously macho movement. ButVanguardis a good place to start.