Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Secret Soldier (John Wells, #5)” as Want to Read:
The Secret Soldier (John Wells, #5)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Secret Soldier (John Wells #5)

4.11  ·  Rating Details  ·  5,176 Ratings  ·  241 Reviews
The brand new John Wells thriller and the first Headline title from NYT #1 bestseller Alex Berenson.

Those in power always need an unofficial option. Meet John Wells.
Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah fears he is fast losing control of his family and his people. A series of terrorist attacks has put his kingdom on edge and, with powerful factions turning against him, the king mus
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published May 26th 2011 by Headline (first published February 8th 2011)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Secret Soldier, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Secret Soldier

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Daniel Audet
Jan 14, 2011 Daniel Audet rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 07, 2011 Jeffrey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Rob Smith
Apr 19, 2014 Rob Smith rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2014
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
Linda Munro
Oct 20, 2015 Linda Munro rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I originally found this author and the John Wells, ex-CIA operative books on; they have quickly become one of my favorite series. This is the fifth book in the series, each is a stand alone book, but it is always better to read them in order.

In this novel, Exley, Wells’ former romantic partner is out of the picture, another interest has taken her place; one that seems more attune to John’s undercover work, his inability to let things go. Also, John has cut himself off from the CIA
Apr 10, 2011 Anthony rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 14, 2012 Jerome rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 really liked it  ·  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
Jan 17, 2011 Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads, thriller
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
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
May 20, 2014 Jim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Clinton Sweet
A fictitious account depicting the Saudi/US dynamic. Can always just read a factual account
Apr 05, 2015 Julia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the better thrillers that I've read lately. It develops quickly and builds throughout to a satisfying and logical conclusion. It involves terrorism plots in Saudi Arabia and it explores the relationship between the US and Saudi Arabia as well as being a gripping story in its own right.

While this is the fifth Alex Berenson book to feature CIA agent John Wells, it works well as a standalone thriller and you don't need to have read his other books - in fact, this is one of the best.
Feb 24, 2011 Kate rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime
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.
Aug 01, 2012 Maynard rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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."
Jan 28, 2016 GymGuy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book has the same issues that the first one has. While the story FINALLY ends pretty well, it takes way too long to get there. After 40%, the story still hadn't taken off. Perhaps I'm a little impatient, but I generally like a story to get itself into gear within the first 25% or so. This one was still giving background lessons in Shia/Sunni differences. While interesting, I'm not reading this for that info. In fact, I'd just as soon that they both blew each other up and saved ourselves a w ...more
Khaleel Datay
Jan 16, 2014 Khaleel Datay rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jan 11, 2014 Henry C. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 28, 2015 Paula rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another solid, entertaining read in the capable hands of Alex Berenson featuring hero John Wells. Wells is officially separated from the CIA but his reputation brings the king of Saudi Arabia to his doorstep looking for help navigating family intrigue. For a cool $2 million (no strings attached), he asks Wells just to hear him out. I'd like to know where you get a gig like that! Considering what happened next, er.... maybe not. Wells engages former colleague Brett Gaffan to assist and the two fi ...more
Toni Osborne
Apr 28, 2012 Toni Osborne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Paul Wilner
Feb 07, 2011 Paul Wilner rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Luanne Ollivier
Mar 01, 2011 Luanne Ollivier rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 24, 2013 Malia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 10, 2013 Dale rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 State
Jan 31, 2011 Julie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
May 19, 2013 Kristin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Giovanni Gelati
Feb 17, 2011 Giovanni Gelati rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Last Refuge (Dewey Andreas, #3)
  • The American (Ryan Kealey, #1)
  • The Cabal (Kirk McGarvey, #14)
  • Silent Enemy (Michael Parson & Sophia Gold, #2)
  • Exit Plan (Jerry Mitchell, #3)
  • The Skorpion Directive (Agent Micah Dalton, #4)
  • The Widow's Strike (Pike Logan, #4)
  • Full Black (Scot Harvath, #10)
  • Black Site (Delta Force, #1)
  • Tsar (Alexander Hawke, #5)
  • A Time for Patriots (Patrick McLanahan, #17)
  • Gideon's War (Gideon Davis, #1)

Other Books in the Series

John Wells (10 books)
  • The Faithful Spy (John Wells, #1)
  • The Ghost War (John Wells, #2)
  • The Silent Man (John Wells, #3)
  • The Midnight House (John Wells, #4)
  • The Shadow Patrol (John Wells, #6)
  • The Night Ranger (John Wells, #7)
  • The Counterfeit Agent (John Wells, #8)
  • Twelve Days (John Wells, #9)
  • The Wolves (John Wells, #10)

Share This Book