WARPATHS combines two fields of study in order to provide an understanding of the process by which Europeans came to dominate the North American continent. The first is the traditional perspective of military history—a documentation of the alliances, battles, weapons, supplies, and conflicting ideologies involved in the colonial wars. The other is the field of ethnohistory, which looks at the events more from the perspective of the indigenous Amerindians (the term used in the book). From this perspective, the warfare is seen as a series of invasions.
The book frankly acknowledges that war was the norm in colonial North American history and that the establishment of modern North America was based on considerable violence. The book begins by stating briefly what is known and surmised about the native populations before the European incursions which began in 1513 with Ponce de Leon.
The first major section of the book covers 1565-1672, a period which the author describes as the initial phase of “meeting, fighting, tolerating, cooperating, or incorporating each other into their own pre-existing conflicts.” The areas of study include Spanish San Agustin, British Jamestown, French Quebec, British Plymouth, and Dutch Fort Orange.
The second part of the book covers the period 1687-1748 and describes the Amerindian conflicts in the context of the Anglo-French intercolonial wars. Part 3 covers the period 1748-1765, when large numbers of European soldiers arrived and changed the nature of the conflict. Ultimately the British won the contest for colonial North America and successfully negotiated peace following the war with the Amerindians that took place from 1763 to 1765.