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The Secret Soldier (John Wells #5)

4.1 of 5 stars 4.10  ·  rating details  ·  3,696 ratings  ·  213 reviews
John Wells goes undercover in Saudi Arabia in a cutting-edge novel of modern suspense from the #1 New York Times-bestselling author.

John Wells may have left the CIA, but it hasn't left him. A mysterious call brings a surprise meeting with the aged monarch of Saudi Arabia, King Abdullah. "My kingdom is on a precipice," he tells Wells. "Powerful factions are plotting agains

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Published February 8th 2011 by Penguin Group (USA) (first published February 1st 2011)
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Daniel Audet
I finished Alex's book yesterday, I was sorry it ended. As a writer myself I enjoyed this book very much for writerly reasons and, as a fan of the genre Alex is re-defining, it will be one of the "books of the year" for 2011. Alex took some chances most safer writers still won't take with certain issues and his fearlessness in character portrayal is inspiring, giving a sincere depth to the story. Sub-plots are seamless and barely detectable, simmering close to the surface all the way to the last...more
An excellent espionage thriller from the ex New York Times reporter Alex Berenson. His hero John Wells is out of the CIA and on his own living in Vermont, but he keeps his toe in the spy business. Wells is not all seeing all doing killer who can vanquish 5 foes in an instant, but he is not afraid to get his hands dirty in the New World Order that we live in.

So when a friend comes to him about a spy who has strayed off the reservation and betrayed his country, Wells is all to willing to journey...more
Rob Smith
I’m against the tide of the majority of reviews praising this volume of John Wells fictitious life. Maybe it’s timing that affected my experience reading the book. I also wonder if it’s that I accidently bypassed the volume before this, The Midnight House, that has gotten poor reviews. Whatever the case, I found this book far over written. It’s great when an author has a lot of background for a novel, but that author doesn’t have to put it all in one volume. To me, the book dragged horribly with...more
This is one of the best thriller series I've ever come across. The protagonist, John Wells, is one of the best characters to come along in a long time. He is a former CIA agent, who was able to penetrate Al Queda in Afghanistan, by among other things, converting to Islam. After his cover was blown, he left the CIA and has gone on his own. In this chapter of the series, John Wells is hired by the King of Saudi Arabia to help determine who is behind a series of terrorist attacks in the kingdom tha...more
A review by The Providence Journal Bulletin on the dust jacket of this book, suggests that Berenson's earlier novel, "The Silent Man" quote, 'elevated him to the rarefied league of Vince Flynn', unquote. This preposterous statement only goes to highlight the problem of newspaper 'journalists' writing book reviews. Don't get me wrong, I am not being critical of Vince Flynn as a writer. I have read most of his work & he can be a very entertaining writer of action thrillers. His hero, Mitch Rap...more
Byron Lord
Feb 26, 2014 Byron Lord rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Byron by: my wife
Shelves: first-reads
I got this book free from First Reads. This is my honest review:

Wow, what a great story. This is my first Berenson book. He is definitely my type of author. John Wells is my type of hero, a man of great character and commitment to doing the right thing. I love the action and intrigue. The story is set in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, where internal plotting within the royal family has created a new terrorist organization designed to unseat King Abdulla. The King calls John Wells to find out what...more
I saw many similarities between John Wells, the hero of this book, and Michael Weston, the main character of one of my favorite TV shows "Burn Notice." Both are former covert operatives who crave action and try to use their unique skills to do good.

In this take of international espionage and intrigue, Wells is lured out of retirement by the opportunity to get back into the field in the Middle East and perhaps tip the balance of power a bit. The action is nonstop and the conclusion, when it comes...more
Despite George Guidall's always brilliant narration and the general timeliness of the story - the old king in Saudi Arabia wants to change the succession rules so that his own son sits on the throne upon his death which causes major consternation among the king's cousins - I never connected with the story. Former CIA agent John Wells is brought into the picture by the King himself who wants Wells to find proof that it is the King's cousin who is behind the spate of recent terrorist attacks aroun...more
I won this book from the publisher's Facebook page and hadn't heard of the author before. I also wasn't aware of the fact that it is one of a series about the lead character John Wells.

It's not my usual type of read, though I love the TV series Spooks which is similar in a lot of ways. It strikes me as more of a "boys' book" than something women enjoy - and yes I do know that's stereotyping and a vast generalisation!

I found it gripping enough while I was reading it, but I found the long passages...more
Several years ago I read a book by ALEX BERENSON entitled THE GHOST WAR. Recently I read another book featuring Berenson's hero John Wells. The book, THE SECRET SOLDIER (ISBN 978-0515150346, paperback, $9.99) was originally published in 2011. I read the hardcover version but it is now available in a mass market paperback.

The story begins with John Wells tracking down a rogue CIA operative in the Caribbean country of Jamaica. This part of the story is set against the natural beauty of the land an...more
Bouchra Rebiai
The fifth book in this awesome aeries by Alex Berenson was much better than the previous one. Set in a number of countries, but mainly in Saudi Arabia, it's another international thriller in which the world needs John Wells to save the day.

Usually, I have a lot of trouble reading books set in Saudi Arabia, because it feels like I'm reading about some weird made-up country. Many of the facts are usually either exaggerated or over-simplified. However, in The Secret Soldier, it feels more realistic...more
Wish I could connect with the John Wells character but it isn't happening. 2.5 Stars for this somewhat manic action story. The first part of the book did not connect you directly with the main story about the Saudi royal family succession. And I really don't care at all about struggles within that family on who gets to run the place. Some of the action scenes are pretty good and I would recommend this for anyone needing some "mind candy" for the beach.
Alex Berenson does it again. If you haven't read the "John Wells" series, I highly recommend that you start now. Maybe this one hit home because of all the craziness in the region right now, or maybe it's because I have made friends with people who've spent time in Rhiyad and share their stories. Either way, this one might be my favorite of his so far.
Maynard Lewis
This is my first read of an Alex Berenson work, and I am impressed. So impressed, that I turned to pg. 1 of the Prologue last yesterday afternoon, and except for a 15-min. break to gobble down dinner, I read straight through to the end. If you enjoy fast-paced, realistic spy-thrillers set in the mondern era, you must read "The Secret Soldier."
Khaleel Datay
Thoroughly enjoyed this book featuring Berenson's John Well's character. Wells, former CIA and Ranger, is approached by the ailing Saudi King to help him secure a succession battle with his brother Prince Saeed. King Abdullah wishes to cede power to his son while his brother feels its his birthright to be king. The book starts with a terrorist attack in Bahrain on a nightclub frequented by Westerners. We are introduced to Jihadis who feel aggrieved with the Saudi monarchy repressive rule. Wells...more
Lewis Weinstein
Another outstanding John Wells adventure, with plot lines and details as current as recent headlines, some of those headlines occurring AFTER Berenson wrote his story. Of course some of it is impossible - or is it? - but the adrenalin flow trumps any implausibility.
Henry C.
As a reader, you shouldn't ask too much of the spy/action genre: Keep your interest, propel you with the plot, limit the improbable hijinks to a relative minimum (but don't sacrifice entertainment) and bring it in for a satisfying landing.

"The Secret Soldier" does all of this. And it does so with a level of predictive power that is almost chilling given events that transpired soon after its publication. (No spoilers -- read and you'll see. If you don't want to read, ask me.)

Alex Berenson's John...more
Toni Osborne
Book 5, in the John Wells series

I am a huge fan of this series and with “The Secret Soldier” Mr. Berenson’s ability in storytelling shines. I really enjoy his forensic details and the picture he paints of deadly situations in highly volatile locations. This time we follow the intrepid former Special ops soldier John Wells on a mission while he tries to defuse an impending war on Arabian soil. It is believed a terrorist group that is even deadlier than Al Qaeda is at the heart of the well-orchest...more
Paul Wilner
A good journalist might attempt to make clear sense of the causes and effects of real people, places, and circumstances mingling in a real time or place. A good fiction writer might create some of those things. Alex Berenson nicely does both in the Secret Soldier, his fifth John Wells thriller.
John Wells is a former CIA operative who is trying to be retired in New Hampshire, but still has the reputation, contacts, skills, and motivation that conspire to keep him in the field, if not in the tradi...more
Luanne Ollivier
Alex Berenson is an author new to me. The Secret Soldier is the 5th book in Berenson's successful John Wells series.

In The Secret Soldier, Wells has left the CIA and is now working freelance. When he receives a call about a prospective employer willing to pay big bucks for his expertise, he accepts. The employer just happens to be the King of Saudi Arabia. The King's family is conspiring against him and colluding with terrorists. Overthrowing the King is not enough, they also want war with the...more
Probably my favorite John Wells so far. This time, he is sent or rather called to Saudi Arabia where he becomes entangles with the quarrels of the royal family and grand scale manipulations that could impact the future of Saudi-American relations as well as progress in Saudi Arabia itself. The story is very fast paced and Wells seems a little less unhinged than in some of the other books, where he really ought to have some serious therapy. There is plenty of action, but also plenty of historical...more
Published by Recorded Books in 2011.
Read by George Guidall
Duration: 11 hours, 23 minutes

This is my first John Wells book. For those not in the know, John Wells is a former CIA agent who is also a Muslim (if not a particularly devout one when it comes to all of the formalities). He now freelances, sometimes working with the CIA, sometimes not.

The first part of The Secret Soldier deals with John Wells tracking down a former operative in Jamaica and bringing him back to the United States...more
I won this book through the Goodreads First Reads Giveaway on 12/31/2010 and received it on 01/10/2011!

I love reading military/government/spy inspired books. The Secret Soldier was really, really good. The way Alex Berenson wrote the book makes you feel like you are really there, experiencing the madness that he created within the pages.

It read like it was a movie, I could see everything happening in my head due to the in-depth way that the book was put together. I think that makes an amazing a...more
4.5 stars.

There are spoilers from previous books in this review.

Well, since John quit the agency, one had to wonder where he’d be at the beginning of this book. Sharing a scuzzy hotel room with beer cans, a joint and dirty clothes strewn about in Montego Bay with another guy definitely wasn’t it. Yet after he gets a clue as to the whereabouts of Keith Robinson, the traitor who gave up government secrets and agents to the Chinese a couple of books back, Montego Bay is the place Wells turns up, th...more
Sherry H
I won an ARC copy of this book on a Goodreads FirstReads giveaway, and I feel guilty about it. I would have bought this book had I not won it. I have bought and enjoyed a couple of others in this John Wells series. So this wasn't a test-drive of a new author for me, but a small windfall; a gift. I knew I'd like it. And it arrived on my birthday, thankyouverymuch. But I digress.

In this installment, Alex Berenson's protagonist, John Wells, is hunting down Saudi terrorists operating inside Saudi Ar...more
Giovanni Gelati
Things are getting intense around here at Gelati’s Scoop. We are getting involved in much and have much more to do. Sound vague, yes but I have a few things going and can’t reveal all at this time. Next week I am going to drop in something neat, at least I hope that you like it. Anyway, we got a nice compliment from author Irene Hannon on our blogtalk show the other day. Irene was nice enough to point out that the guest we have had and will be having on the blogtalk show are some pretty serious...more
Rachel P
I read this book in 4 days and it was a fast-paced adventure all the way! Alex Berenson is a talented special-ops thriller writer who presents well-developed characters and demonstrates a keen understanding of the situations and the subject matter they encounter.

The Secret Soldier is one in a series of novels starring ex-CIA agent John Wells—who has all the guts and glory of John McClane, the cool intellect of James Bond, and the nine lives of Jack Bauer. And to the credit of the author, he pro...more
This was my first Alex Berenson, and coming into a series-in-progress usually isn't a great introduction. With that in mind, I think Berenson did a decent job of including backstory to help keep the reader up to speed, which was a nice bonus. And all in all, this was a fast, easy, and enjoyable read, with a fallable hero and human villains enmeshed in the murky undertows of culture and religion. Main character John Wells, ex-CIA operative, feels himself being pulled back into the field, first by...more
The Saudi government is in trouble. One of the princes of the kingdom is undermining the King in an effort to seize the throne. So, who do the King and his trusted henchmen turn to? Former CIA operative John Wells. This demonstrates the fiction in this incredulous turn of events; as the prince says “You think this pleases us? To ask an American we don’t know for help.” What else would you do though when your own secret service is compromised?
Once Wells gets his head in the game, he and his partn...more
Erick Pulido
The story revolves around a former CIA operative by the name of John Wells. He has settled for a quiet lifestyle until he is called up for a very important job. All throughout the Middle East there is a group of terrorists lead by a man called Bakr. A war between the United States and Saudi Arabia is immanent unless he is stopped. Wells travels across the world gathering intelligence on Bakr before closing in on him. As he does he begins to feel uneasy with who he trusts because either side will...more
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