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The Faithful Spy (John Wells #1)

3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  7,549 ratings  ·  532 reviews
John Wells penetrates al Qaeda for ten years until only CIA handler Jennifer Exley believes he is still true blue. Omar Khadri, malicious mastermind, plots major strike in States, orders Well in from the cold. Tarik Durant, abusive husband in Montreal, concocts in basement lab. Neither Khadri, still suspicious, nor Exley, romantically intrigued, knows what to expect next.
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published April 25th 2006 by Random House
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The Bourne Identity by Robert LudlumTinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John le CarréThe Spy Who Came In from the Cold by John le CarréThe Hunt for Red October by Tom ClancyThe Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsyth
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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James Schubring
Alex Berenson paints John Wells, our 'faithful spy,' so well that I could imagine sitting across the table with steaks and beers chatting about his life. He's got a fully fleshed existence between the pages of this taut book, quite an accomplishment. We catch up to him after he's infiltrated into al Qaeda and has to sacrifice all the men in his cell to make contact with the Americans: he's been out of touch with his masters in the CIA but he's still faithful. It's a wonderful scene, one of many ...more
Mar 26, 2009 Jeffrey rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: espionage thriller fans
a very well done espionage novel about John Wells, a CIA spy who infilitrates Al Quaida and comes in from the cold to attempt to stop a plot to destroy New York City with a dirty bomb. The characters are very well drawn, and Wells problems, issues and characterization is much better drawn out than in the next two books. The various terrorists are also given more than a little attention.

Somewhat like some other super agents of recent vintage Wells is a killing machine, but he has a soul and that
Steven Z.
Alex Berenson’s first novel, THE FAITHFUL SPY introduces us to a new type of operative in the war on terror. John Wells is a CIA agent who goes underground trying to infiltrate al-Qaeda before 9/11. He is successful in penetrating the terrorist organization and proves his metal in Chechnya, Afghanistan, and Iraq. While embedded inside al-Qaeda he develops an attraction to Islam as a way of life and converts. Wells, who originally hailed from Montana remains loyal to his country despite his conve ...more
Not a bad spy thriller & certainly relevant today. One thing the story shows quite clearly is how bureaucrats with their CYA mentality have a lot of trouble with the terrorist threat. Nothing is ever certain & chances have to be taken.

There's a good, balanced view of religion throughout the book. Prejudices are shown from both sides.
Jul 24, 2007 Djinnjer rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: no one
Shelves: fiction, reviewed
This book started off somewhat interesting, including characters caught between the need for intelligence and the rights of suspects post-9/11. I suspected I'd disagree with it politically but hoped it would be a good read anyway. Halfway through, though, it turned from political thriller into a bad romance novel in which I hoped the protagonist and his handler/love interest would never meet again. She continued to believe in him despite serious questions within the CIA and refused to pull him i ...more
Tim Warner
I gave up on excellent spy novels years ago when my taste for LeCarre could not be satisfied with anyone else. So I decided to take a risk with Alex Berenson's "The Faithful Spy." If nothing else, this novel has restored my faith in the genre as relevant, as vital, and as a vehicle for truly good writing. I am convinced that Alex Berenson is every bit as good as the best of those who write fiction thrillers. I now have to check out other authors who write contemporary spy books; but not right aw ...more
The latest installment of this series got a glowing review in The Economist so I was intrigued and decided to check out the first book. Being a fan of the international spy thriller genre (which, in my opinion, was perfected by the likes of John Le Carre and Alan Furst), I was curious to see how Berenson would hold up. He seems to have the right kind of credentials - reporter for the New York Times with a stint in Baghdad, a contract from Random House, a movie deal. The subject matter of terrori ...more
Mal Warwick
Al Qaeda from the inside out: a thriller filled with suspense

John Wells is the only CIA operative ever to succeed in infiltrating Al Qaeda. Now, after a decade undercover in Afghanistan and Chechnya, he finally appears to have gained the confidence of the group’s top leaders. Summoned to an audience with Ayman al-Zawahiri, Wells is dispatched to the USA to play a key role in a terrorist plot to rival 9/11.

As the story unfolds, we learn that Wells is no longer trusted by the CIA — with the except
Anne  (Booklady) Molinarolo
The horrific events of 9/11 have changed the espionage thriller genre and new authors with huge followings have taken up the war on terror. Among these popular authors is Alex Berenson. He brilliantly introduces readers to John Wells, a CIA operative who has given up his family, parents, wife, and son to successfully infiltrate al Qaeda. Both his agency and the terrorists are wary of him.

He has spent 10 years proving himself to UBL and al Zawahiri in the desolate plateaus of Pakistan and in th
This was a great read. The thrill factor is high and the story is very well-done. I am definitely moving on in the series. I can't wait to see what happens in the next in the series. I am knocking it down a star though for a part in the story that I found to be so irrelevant except to maybe the author. (view spoiler) ...more
Zohar -
The Faithful Spy by Alex Berenson is a novel following a man who was a CIA asset in al Qaeda. The novel takes place in Afghanistan and the United States.

John Wells is the only CIA agent managed to infiltrate al Qaeda, in the process he has become a faithful Muslim but still an American patriot. Understandably, John’s al Qaeda bosses don’t fully trust him, but as a result of his long absence and finding a new religion, his CIA bosses don’t trust him either.

Trying to prove himself as a patriot and
A nuanced, gruesome spy thriller.

The basic idea is original if not easily believable. A CIA agent manages to infiltrate Al Qaeda and then quite sincerely becomes a Muslim without however losing his basic patriotism and loyalty to America. The result is that his CIA bosses no longer trust him while his Al Qaeda bosses do not completely trust him either. He is a man in danger of being lost between two worlds. This part of the book is subtle and nuanced. Berenson describes the psychology of the Isl
This book really caught my eye when I found it on here. It takes a unique - as far as I know - viewpoint on the war on terror, with the protagonist being a deep cover CIA agent in Al Qaeda. During his time there he has come to see the west as decadent and has converted to Islam, but he still works against Al Qaeda. So when he is sent home by Al Qaeda to do a mission, he is confronted by a decadent world, mistrusting employers and a plot to re-ignite the Jihad on America and its western allies. Y ...more
Ricardo Mendes
O primeiro livro do escritor Alex Berenson veio-se a revelar um bom livro quando se fala de espionagem e contra terrorismo.

Até à data este foi o livro mais fiel à realidade que li. No mundo dos espiões é fácil perder-se na ficção e começar a acrescentar pequenos detalhes que na realidade não existem. Não tenho dúvidas que Alex Berenson teve um excelente trabalho de pesquisa e escreveu um enredo com pés e cabeça.

Passando à história propriamente dita, John Wells é um espião que se infiltrou nas m
Jan 06, 2008 Tom rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone stuck on a long plane flight
This book was a single gulp on a long airplane flight. Just right for killing five hours. Another episode of Jack Ryan, or Jack Bauer, or whatever your favorite secret hero may be.

Terrorists, bombs, lies, and germs. The submarines and fighter jets of today.

Not great literature, not even a really great story, per se, but overall, much better than spending five hours staring at the back of the seat in front of you.
Non stop acton and amazing suspense. John Wells is perfectly written as the tortured hero and his relationship with Jennifer Exley was a good balance to all the drama. This is the first book I've read by Alex Berenson but it will not be my last!
This is definitely a great thriller depicting a deep undercover operative, an American agent infiltrating Al Qaeda, who enters no-man's land as both sides don't know whether they can truly trust him or not. The reader doesn't have to question the loyalty of our hero, but everyone else surely does.

Soon, the operative is sneaking into the United States.. should he make contact with his operatives or wait until he knows something.

The author does a great job of making the reader feel the solitude of
An Odd1
John Wells, deep undercover in Afghanistan-Pakistan border mountains, still sacrifices Arab fellows to American strangers. Only CIA Jennifer Exley is "certain Wells hadn't flipped" p 308. We are too. This review is tricky, where to plug spoiler alerts, because I was fairly positive, for many pages, that John had to die, Jen had to die, good guys were doomed.

How and how long can he survive? How can he fight alone? In US, he still hides, so villain leader Omar Khadri will include him in major US
I have read two previous John Wells' thrillers, #2 and #5 in the series. Now I understand the series a whole lot better having just read #1, THE FAITHFUL SPY (ISBN 978-0515144345, paperback, $9.99) by New York Times writer ALEX BERENSON. I advise reading this series in proper sequence because there are events and relationships that are confusing if you do not. Berenson's books are well-written page turners. Read them!

I am not sure if there is another series of spy thrillers that feature an Ameri
Byron Lord
Feb 14, 2014 Byron Lord rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Byron by: my wife
This is an excellent study into the deep cover role of a CIA agent who successfully infiltrates Al Qaeda. The Faithful Spy is a revealing look into the intrigue and patience of Al Qaeda plotters. John Wells is an exceptional spy who has absorbed himself so completely into character and so far off the grid that even his CIA handlers are uncertain of his allegiance. However, throughout years of working his way into the confidence of our enemies he remains the faithful spy. The plots are exciting a ...more
Yvann S
I have a weakness for spy thrillers, but most of the ones I have read have either been FBI/CIA/NSA within the USA (usually by David Baldacci, for whose plots I express unreserved awe mixed with amusement) or secret international sect protected by naughty governments around the world is exposed by brainiac with sidekick (Dan Brown and his copycats).

This one was a little different – following a CIA sleeper agent inside Al-Qaeda. One of the reasons I really enjoyed this was that Berenson considered
Blood Rose Books
The first in a series, Alex Berenson debut takes the reader on a Spy Game that is very realistic to the World`s current state and one gets the feeling that everything written could happen today.

John Wells is an All-American from Montana, now he is the only operative that had successfully infiltrated al Qaeda, even to the status of a commander of a small force, but his resolve is the same to kill Bin Laden. But Wells does not travel an easy road, it is hard for him to make contact with the agency
Jul 27, 2011 KarenC rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: readers of spy thrillers
Recommended to KarenC by: Edgar award
A terrific first novel in the tradition of the original WW II spies with infiltration, fooling the opposition, being left on one's own, but with current events relevance and today's sense of adventure and action. Author can stand up to LeCarre, Furst, Flynn, Clancy's Ryan series, Silva's Allon series, and more. I still remember Forsyth's The Jackel , the early Robert Ludlum's, Alistair MacLean's, and Bill Granger's plots being tighter, better written, more suspenseful, but in most cases less vi ...more
Matt Crumpton
Man oh man have I been waiting for another novel like this to come around. I love a book that can get you hooked and keep it that way until the last page. The novel ends and it leaves you wanting more. You even find yourself rereading it in the future. The Faithful Spy was that type of book for me. I have read so much crap and so so novels trying to find a work like this. I am glad I stumbled onto this book at the local library.

First off, I love spy thrillers. I am obsessed with the whole genre.
Feb 07, 2010 Samantha rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of spy novels
Shelves: spy-novels
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
The Faithful Spy is the first book in the series of espionage novels written by Alex Berenson. The author worked as The New York Times correspondent in Iraq prior to writing these books. This experience allowed him to base his fiction on first-hand observations.

The novel provides exceptionally mature and serious take on the War on Terror. It shows that there is nothing glorious about this conflict, just mundane, desperate struggle on both sides, and prevailing confusion as to what the war is all
It's interesting to read this now rather than when it was originally published because the landscape has changed so much - Osama Bin Laden is dead, IS is the top-of-mind terror group, and various other issues foreign and domestic are capturing national attention. While I find Berenson's prose somewhat clunky in places, I do appreciate that he presents a cast with wide-ranging views about the war on terror and the role of enhanced interrogation (and the line between it and torture) as an investig ...more
Meh. I'll write more later. Maybe.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
An interesting and different perspective on the life of a spy. After reading through the much more machismo worlds of Mitch Rapp and Jack Reacher it was certainly interesting to read about someone in the same profession but showing much more emotional vulnerability. Jack Wells lacks the emotional separation that many spy characters have to their questionable activities and it was quite refreshing, surprisingly. Looking forward to reading the rest of the books in the series.
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