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The Secret Soldier | [Alex Berenson]

The Secret Soldier

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 against me, and my own family is in danger. I don't know who I can trust, but I'm told I can trust you."
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Publisher's Summary

John Wells goes undercover in Saudi Arabia in a cutting-edge novel of modern suspense from the #1 New York Times best-selling 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 against me, and my own family is in danger. I don't know who I can trust, but I'm told I can trust you."

Reluctantly, and with the secret blessing of the CIA, Wells goes undercover; but the more he learns, the more complicated things become, and soon he, too, is unsure whom to trust, in Saudi Arabia or Washington. One thing, however, is clear: If the conspirators prevail, it will mean more than the fall of a monarch-it may be the beginning of the final conflagration between America and Islam.

©2011 Alex Berenson (P)2011 Penguin

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (1172 )
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4.4 (730 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Louis Pittsburgh, PA, United States 05-15-12
    Louis Pittsburgh, PA, United States 05-15-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
    149
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    25
    22
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    5
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "An aging spy torn between peace and vengance"

    John Wells is an American Muslim and CIA Officer who speaks Arabic. His mind is sharp, but the trauma of old wounds seeps into his muscles and his psyche and slows him, and leads him to act with vengeance, as if compensating for his diminishing strength. Wells leaves a warm bed for this adventure, and the sense of time running out is no clearer than when he speaks to the woman he loves.

    In keeping with the nature of a Dickensian serial, the first chapters resolve the last book, and the last chapters preface the new book. Although this is more effective than Daniel Silva's lazy copy-paste introductions and plot-wheel backstories, Berenson's decisions loses power for new readers to revisit the older books.

    Wells becomes trapped in Saudi place intrigue, and Berenson creates a sophisticated portrait of the Borgia-like Saudi families and its crumbling patriarch. Wells Muslim beliefs are battered by the Saudi's compromise with thuggish, ignorant Wahabi. Wells race to Mecca is passionate and bittersweet.

    During the set pieces, it was impressive to see Wells work with his razor-sharp mind instead of blazing with over-described munitions, as if listening to a teenager describe a naked woman.

    The book, like most spy novels these days, is a variant on dystopia, but Berenson carries it with intelligence and insight.

    I have listened to a number of George Guidall's recordings, and his voice paints in the colors of warfare: deep green, dark sand, polished black, but lacks the lush quality of a woman or young man. It is the right choice, but not a perfect one.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    mary winston 05-11-12 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
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    6
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    Performance
    Story
    "only one thing I don't get....."
    Have you listened to any of George Guidall’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    I love this reader...one of my all time favorites


    Any additional comments?

    I don't understand how/why the main character is a follower of Islam.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tarren AUSTIN, TEXAS, United States 04-20-12
    Tarren AUSTIN, TEXAS, United States 04-20-12 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    7
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    Performance
    Story
    "Rather Good Listen"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Narriation was excellent. Story line was well over the line of good. I would happily recommend this book series to a friend.


    What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

    Pleased.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The peak near the end.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    A needle in a desert.


    Any additional comments?

    Bring back Ecksly!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    RBR 04-16-12
    RBR 04-16-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    20
    8
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    0
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    "A lot of body, but not too deep."
    What made the experience of listening to The Secret Soldier the most enjoyable?

    I liked the way the story fit in with much of what is going on in Arabic countries currently.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The rescue attempt.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    When she explains why the Ambassador's message to his wife was not "I love you".


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John Fox Lake, IL, United States 01-23-12
    John Fox Lake, IL, United States 01-23-12 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
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    3
    3
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    0
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    Performance
    Story
    "Great Listen"
    If you could sum up The Secret Soldier in three words, what would they be?

    I Enjoyed It!


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    John Wells


    Which character – as performed by George Guidall – was your favorite?

    All, great performer


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    no, but it was hard to put down.


    Any additional comments?

    I highly recommend it, definatly worth the credit!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rick Trussville, AL, United States 01-08-12
    Rick Trussville, AL, United States 01-08-12 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    69
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    Performance
    Story
    "Bulldog Listener"

    Loved this book, George read very well as he always does. He kept me engaged, even when the author had to go into the details to set the scenes. The story was timely, well done and action packed to keep the listener on his/her toes. I would recomend, this is my second Berenson audio book, this one was my favorite.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael G. Kurilla ROCKVILLE, MD, United States 07-19-11
    Michael G. Kurilla ROCKVILLE, MD, United States 07-19-11 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Overall
    "Wells is back, but beginning to show his age"

    In the latest John Wells tale, the reluctant super agent is drawn back into the shadowy world of espionage and black ops that he so desperately wants to avoid. The is the weakest yet in this series. Regardless of how sympathetic the author tries to be towards religion, the plot wanders into excessive use of cliches and routine standard fare for terrorist settings. Most of the characters are overly stereotypical and Wells is overly introspective. At the same time, perhaps due to all his previous stories, Wells has an uncanny knack for always correctly interpreting the minimal clues when everyone around him seems confused. The only novel aspect is that the author has transplanted elements of Pakistan into Saudi Arabia which becomes the basis for driving the storyline. Hopefully, Wells can enjoy a well deserved rest in NH before getting back fresh into the game again.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Richard Kraus Atlanta, GA United States 05-24-11
    Richard Kraus Atlanta, GA United States 05-24-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
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    3
    2
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    0
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    "Can we have a Redo?"

    I'm reading Berenson's books in order. The narrator of the Faithful Spy was good. I have listened to better, but I would give him a B+or A-. After an hour of the Secret Soldier I would revise my grade to an A++. This narrator mumbles and rushes through his reading so much that Berenson's prose is almost totally obscured. My heart sank when I saw that the same guy has narrated other Berenson books!
    How did he get the job?? I've never heard worse. The premise of the book is good. The descriptions and nuance are good. The protagonist, John Wells, is interesting. But it only takes an incompetent narrator to muck it up royally. My 3 star rating reflects a 4.7 for the book and a .7 for narration.

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Buzz Scottsdale, AZ, United States 05-11-11
    Buzz Scottsdale, AZ, United States 05-11-11 Listener Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
    85
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    37
    36
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    12
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    Overall
    "Good, Not Great"

    The Secret Soldier is a fast-paced, good, international intrigue thriller. It is well-written, and author Alex Berenson places his one-dimensional characters in some exciting post-9/11 situations. The author is a former New York Times reporter, who still writes journalistic pieces. The Secret Soldier rises above many books of its kind by the information the author provides about Saudi Arabia and the CIA. I “read” this book as an audio book. It is easy to follow during stop-and-go listening while traveling, and it makes a good traveling companion. Its best virtue is that it is good entertainment.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Patrick 04-09-11
    Patrick 04-09-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
    85
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    104
    57
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    2
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    Overall
    "action packed"

    Fast paced moving plot delivered very creatively by George Guidall. His various accents were very impressive. Could have done with a little less gore depictions. Real time post postmortems at every turn. Given the chance, imagination goes a long way.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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