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4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (1,704 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Alex Berenson Narrator: George Guidall Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Related: The John Wells Series Release Date: February 2011 ISBN: 9781101484524
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John Wells may have left the CIA, but he hasn’t left the high-stakes world of espionage, where hidden battles determine the fate of nations.

In Saudi Arabia, King Abdullah is losing his hold. A series of terrorist attacks has put the Kingdom on edge, and even Abdullah’s own secret police cannot be trusted. With nowhere to turn, the King asks for Wells’s help.

Reluctantly, and with the secret blessing of his former CIA boss, Wells agrees. But as he begins to unravel the conspiracy, it takes an unexpected twist, becoming more dangerous than Wells ever imagined. The plotters want more than the fall of a monarch. They want to start the final battle between America and Islam—with only themselves as the victor…


From the Trade Paperback edition. Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • The Secret Soldier luxuriates in violence, positively raging with Tarantino-style carnage...Provocative.”

    New York Times

  • The Secret Soldier is another top-notch Berenson thriller.”

    Lincoln Journal Star

  • The Secret Soldier...is a top notch spy thriller...A good fast read and an excellent spy novel.”

    Examiner.com

  • “Guidall’s narration is perfectly timed. The long expository passages, which are necessary to give the listener the background to the story, are kept moving by Guidall’s delivery. Graphic passages, including descriptions of terrorist attacks, are made all the more horrifying by Guidall’s carefully managed narration.”

    AudioFile

  • “[A] fast-paced thriller...Spy fiction fans will enjoy this one.”

    Library Journal

  • A New York Times Bestseller

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rick | 2/19/2014

    " John Wells novel read by George Guidell. Doesn't get much batter than that. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Gordon | 2/13/2014

    " 3/5 of Alex Berenson's books are Excellent, Faithful Spy, Midnight house and now Secret Soldier, Informative story, tightly woven, with a fused countdown ending.Superb.John wells A man for all reasons! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Stephen Holiday | 1/17/2014

    " Was good, middle was best. Ending was obvious. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Patricia Stone | 1/14/2014

    " Great plot, good inside info on Saudi Arabia and insight into muslim terrorist methods. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Chetan Wasekar | 1/11/2014

    " A thrilling blend of fact & fiction, gives a good internal perspective to the Middle-eastern strife... "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Hugh Carson | 1/8/2014

    " Berenson can get tedious. I enjoy about 33% of his books. After awhile the John Wells persona get old, unlike Harry Bosch or Dave Robicheaux "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jerome | 12/30/2013

    " 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 Rapp, charges into action with the Stars & Stripes flying, & guns blazing. He typifies the all-American hero that features in so many thrillers coming from American authors these days. BUT, let me say that patriotic fodder such as this does not a good spy thriller writer make! Flynn's storylines are generally predictable & limited in scope, with action the prime component. A sort of wham, bam, thank you ma'am, if you like. On the other hand, Berenson's plotting is meticulous, often complicated, & demanding of the reader's attention, and his characters interesting & extensively developed. Flynn's hero appears to be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, whereas, Berenson's John Wells is a flawed character, cautious, & often seemingly introspective. A methodical man, & yet in some ways, an enigma; more human than Flynn's Rapp. It is authors of the calibre of Berenson who will carry the torch of superior espionage fiction, first flamed by the likes of LeCarre, Forsyth, Deighton & McCarry. Once again, Berenson doesn't disappoint. Alex Berenson keeps getting better as an author (and I already liked his work)! In a genre not known for its subtlety, Alex Berenson brings us an introspective but still very tough leading man, a tough-as-nails hero who can see his own flaws. There's nuance and subtlety in his story, and that's what makes this book special. It's not the simplistic good guy-bad guy story that usually dominates this genre; instead, we feel the complexity of the real world and the difficulty of truly deadly situations. The good guys don't always come out on top, and the heroes aren't perfect, but there's plenty to cheer for in this terrific book! Berenson has an almost unequaled grasp of, and ability to convey, the intricacies and complexities of the Middle Eastern Islamic culture. It's all too common for books and movies to portray the region's dynamic over-simplistically, missing a lot of the nuance that animates the people from the area, with the consequence that characters are usually at least somewhat two-dimensional (to those who know) if not downright cartoonish. (Incidentally, a problem that also adheres to our "professionals" in government who are tasked with our foreign policy, if I may editorialize for just a moment. None of them seem to have any real understanding of the region. But I digress) Berenson's characters are all fully realized. They act believably. His pacing is flawless, and the story carries us from the US to Europe to Saudi Arabia and environs. He believably blends real-life people (King Abdullah) with thinly-veiled characters based on other real-life people (Saeed, among others) with completely fictional characters, and carries it off without a blip. All adds to the credibility of the story. And there's plenty of action for adrenaline junkies, too. The Secret Soldier" once again follows the personal and professional drama of John Wells, former CIA operative in Afghanistan and elsewhere. He's a free-wheeling man, disenchanted with the torturous ways of war, and yet he wrestles with his own desire to use violence and release emotion. He is still in a relationship with Anne, though it's more perfunctory and phone-based, with little to add a spark. He thinks of his son once or twice throughout the entire book. His main attention seems focused on understanding his own faith as a Muslim, while fighting terrorists based in extremes of that same religion. This time around, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia are at the center of things. Political intrigue is taking place among the princes of the House of Saud, threatening the Saudi stability and, thereby, oil production and world stability. Tensions at the top are further exacerbated by a splinter group led by an Islamic extremist. From a massacre in a nightclub to the death of a royal to a political kidnapping, there are plenty of reasons for this book to move quickly and suspensefully. So why did it leave me unmoved, often disinterested and detached? A survivor of the early massacre reappears early on in the book, then seems to disappear again, his presence never really explained--despite a lot of pages given to that particular scenario. Wells, our intrepid hero, bounces from location to location, including an entire portion given to the Bahamas that ends up having nothing to do with the plot. Throughout, he seems one step removed from the most important action, until the end--and even there he becomes almost immaterial. The Saudi king and his princes seem to take up a lot of the story, though it's hard to care for any of them. Lots of things happen in the story, but in the end I just wasn't that concerned about any of them. As always, Berenson gives great details and weaves a timely tale, but it's only when he draws me into the personal struggles of Wells and those around him that I connect on a deeper level. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Pat Phillips | 12/14/2013

    " Good story--as all of Berenson's are. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kurt Young | 11/28/2013

    " Growing very fond of America's Islamic undercover spy, John Wells. Interesting look inside Saudi Arabia, with some bonus history thrown in. Wells, is more soldier then spy so if you're looking for a Bondsian tale, look elsewhere. Good read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jason | 11/9/2013

    " This was one of the best books I've read in a long time. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Marilyne | 11/1/2013

    " It was a good book. The story was incredible however I didn't feel that connection that we have sometimes to a character... It was looking more like the story of a stranger but still a good read only for the story "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Robert | 11/1/2013

    " No 5 in the "can't put them down " John Wells series, this one centered in a place I know well, Saudi Arabia. Berenson does his homework. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Thomas Mcmillen | 10/28/2013

    " Decent "Tom Clancy" style thriller. The main character, John Wells is no super-human, but is very effective. (Meaning he takes his lumps, makes mistakes but still achieves success.) I'll go back and read the earlier novels so I guess that's as high of a recommendation as I can give. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Elizabeth Holter | 10/22/2013

    " A good listen for endless hours of unpacking boxes. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Linda Furrie | 9/28/2013

    " I love this guy! He doesn't just give you a story he incorporates history, geography and facts. I always gain knowledge while being entertained. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Matthew | 8/24/2013

    " excellent plotting and storyline, just about as well-written as The Faithful Spy... "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Scott Florence | 4/16/2013

    " Well I did it, I just finished all of the John Wells series. So awesome! So, I have caught up to Alex, and now I have to wait for the next book to come out. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tom | 2/25/2013

    " Somewhat of a typical spy/terrorism novel, though it's fast paced and a fairly good read. The ending was disappointing. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Doug | 10/28/2012

    " Another great book in this series. I am apparently reading them out of order but it doesn't matter. Fast paced action, military suspense thriller. Terrific characters and story line. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Pat Bernhoft | 4/2/2012

    " Along the lines of Daniel Silva and others in the thriller genre. Good read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Brian Lee | 9/20/2011

    " Berenson writes very good thrillers. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Anandh | 6/26/2011

    " Compared to the earlier books, this sequel disappoints a bit. The plot is quite predictable, and the ending is hackneyed. Still, for anyone desiring a hang of Saudi Arabian politics and the succession tussle, this book is worth reading. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kurt | 6/14/2011

    " Growing very fond of America's Islamic undercover spy, John Wells. Interesting look inside Saudi Arabia, with some bonus history thrown in. Wells, is more soldier then spy so if you're looking for a Bondsian tale, look elsewhere. Good read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 elizaholtr | 6/13/2011

    " A good listen for endless hours of unpacking boxes. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Vince | 6/7/2011

    " Suspenseful contemporary saga set mainly among the inner circles of Saudi Arabia. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Stephen | 6/6/2011

    " Was good, middle was best. Ending was obvious. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Doug | 6/2/2011

    " Another great book in this series. I am apparently reading them out of order but it doesn't matter. Fast paced action, military suspense thriller. Terrific characters and story line. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Dad | 5/17/2011

    " The spy story was good,but the history and info about Saudi Arabia was great. I learned a lot. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Matthew Garcia | 5/3/2011

    " excellent plotting and storyline, just about as well-written as The Faithful Spy... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jandblock | 4/18/2011

    " Like John Wells very much. We need more like him "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ned | 4/9/2011

    " Berenson bounces back with the Secret Soldier. Also a great opportunity to learn about the Saudi Royal Family, and the linkages between them and the various terror groups in the Middle East. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kathy | 4/5/2011

    " Loaded with helpful information about Saudi Arabia, radical Muslims, and the conflicts that cause so many problems. Fast paced events, great dialogue. George Guidall gives a spot on performance as narrator.
    Berenson is fast becoming one of my favorite novelists. "

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About the Author

Alex Berenson is the Edgar Award-winning author of nearly a dozen suspense novels in the New York Times bestselling John Wells series, as well as three works of nonfiction.

About the Narrator

George Guidall, winner of eighty AudioFile Erphones Awards, has twice won the prestigious Audie Award for Excellence in Audiobook Narration. In 2014 the Audio Publishers Association presented him with the Special Achievement Award for an audiobook narrator of exceptional stature and accomplishment. During his thirty-year recording career he has recorded over 1,100 audiobooks, won multiple awards, been a mentor to many narrators, and shown by example the potential of fine storytelling. Among Guidall’s narration achievements are Crime and Punishment, The Iliad, and John Irving’s A Widow for One Year, which earned him an Audie Award for best unabridged narration of a novel, an honor he captured again for his rendition of Wally Lamb’s I Know This Much Is True. Guidall’s forty-year acting career includes starring roles on Broadway, an Obie Award for best performance off Broadway, and frequent television appearances.