The Faithful Spy (John Wells, #1)
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The Faithful Spy (John Wells #1)

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3.91 of 5 stars 3.91  ·  rating details  ·  4,882 ratings  ·  410 reviews
John Wells is the only American CIA agent ever to penetrate al Qaeda. Since before the attacks in 2001, Wells has been hiding in the mountains of Pakistan, biding his time, building his cover.
Now, on the orders of Omar Khadri-the malicious mastermind plotting more al Qaeda strikes on America-Wells is coming home. Neither Khadri nor Jennifer Exley, Wells's superior at Langl...more
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published April 25th 2006 by Random House (first published January 1st 2006)
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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
Jeffrey
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...more
Comrade_Bazarov
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
Jim
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.
Tasha
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
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...more
Zohar - ManOfLaBook.com
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...more
Jerome
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...more
James
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...more
Djinnjer
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
Tom
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.
Yvonne
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!
David
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...more
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...more
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...more
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...more
KarenC
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 vio...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....more
Samantha
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.
Jarek
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...more
Kaneil
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.
Shira
I loved this book. The characters are thoughtful and not without flaws. His observations of America are scarily on-point (and reminiscent of Andre Dubus' in the "The House of Sand and Fog") and the action delightfully plotted. I happily clear two days when each of Berenson's books come out. I like a little brains with my boom-boom, and this author delivers it in spades (...but I'm stealing that quote from an author (and when I remember his name, I'll attribute it properly).
Brian Brackeen
This was an excellent book. I like John Wells. He is an interesting character that doesn't come with the made up macho bravado of some other hero's.

The story is about the only CIA agent that has infiltrated al Queda. The storyline is believable and never has those 'over the top' moments. It was hard to put down and I actually cared what happened to the characters.

Very good read, I have put all his other books on my to-read list!
Charlie
An entertaining read. A little long in the middle but the story is novel and the tension felt by the protagonist is believable. Certainly better than average spy novel but the Tom Clancey detail in the middle is a little slow - particularly the parts set in Atlanta.

The love story is acceptable but no more. Read for the thrills and enjoy. Good for an airport type book.
Donna
I wanted to read a light spy novel, and got my wish! This was actually exactly what I was looking for. Good plot, kept me guessing, and I enjoyed the pace and the climax.

However, the characters are flat and under-developed. I know this is the first in a series of books about the protagonist, John Wells (sidebar: wasn't that the guy who created the show ER? That's been bugging me) so maybe that's why the characters are rather one-dimensional.

Also, there were a couple lines that were so cheesy,...more
Craig
I was in the mood. . .

The premise of an undercover Muslim spy, coming out of Afghanistan, was intriguing. The continuous action peaked my interest as the story progressed.

More of an action thriller rather than an intellectual novel.
Ummu
I have finally found and finished this book.

John Wells, a spy in Al-Qaeda. He managed to stop the Yellow. He tried to gain their trust which was successful but not enough to let them tell him the details of the attack. Nice plot.
Angie
Excellent, excellent spy novel. Conflicted characters in a gray world try to locate a moral center as they are called to serve their country. John Wells, our hero, could be a cowboy: watch for the "shot-out" at the end.
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