Leslie Topp's Freedom and the Cage explores seven public psychiatric institutions built between 1898 and 1914 in the late Habsburg Empire, the Austro-Hungarian territories whose major cities included Prague, Vienna, and Kraków. The central idea of the book is that each of these hospitals offered a degree of freedom within a highly controlled environment. Such freedom of movement made the psychiatric hospital seem more “normal.” This paradoxical notion—that one could move about in a seemingly normal way even though confined—comes from Michel Foucault's influential work on the asylum in History of Madness.1 Topp warns that for architectural historians who work on institutions, “there is no escaping...

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