Would you squeeze your way into a shoulder-width, pitch-dark stormwater drain to rescue a kid as it flooded? Would you knowingly cop a 20,000 volt electric shock to save a friend and his child? Would you swim out from the beach to rescue a man bitten by a five-metre white pointer, while the shark is still circling him? Would you run into the carnage of a burning Bali nightclub to save people when anyone who can still walk is running the other way?

These are decisions made in a split-second by ordinary people placed in extraordinary circumstances. Yet those decisions can – and usually do – have an impact that lasts a lifetime. So what happens to these ordinary heroes once the newspaper headlines have disappeared and the medal-award ceremony is a distant memory? Mark Whittaker, Walkley-Award winning journalist and author, has written a unique account that follows men and women in amazing acts of bravery – and then the long aftermath as they deal with an array of issues – from guilt to post-traumatic stress – that were the furthest things from their minds when they made that split-second decision to risk their own life for someone else's.

Brave is, in every sense of the word, extraordinary – both in its approach, the people it describes and honours, and in the effect it has on the reader. It is compelling, complex, heart-breaking and uplifting.

Brave is published by Pan MacMillan and can be purchaed from the Australian Bravery Association. Click here to order.

Click here or on the image above to hear an ABC Radio National interview with Mark Whittaker about his experiences writing the book. Star of Courage recipient Jim Runham SC AFSM OAM also tells his story of courage and the establishment of the Australian Bravery Association.