A classic now out in new edition.. Verso World History Series. Mayer pushes against the emphasis in historical writing that places the burden of cause for the Great Power sleepwalk to the Great War in 1914 on modernizing industrializing stresses and strains on brittle monarchies. Instead, as the title indicates , he finds the Old Regime of landed aristocrats, noble public service, and military tradition still quite in charge. Chapters on economy, social structure, and politics follow a comprehensive introduction to much of the other literature. Best, though is final chapter.. an intellectual history of the (mis)use that elites made of the ideas of Darwin and Nietzsche to keep the power.