He is the author (or co-author) of over thirty books, usually non-fiction, and usually in the field of History. His most recent book was Bathsheba’s Breast: Women, Cancer, and History, which won the 2002 History of Science Category Award from the Association of American Publishers. Olson wrote the book while suffering a malignant growth which resulted in the amputation of his hand. The book was recognized by the Los Angeles Times as one of the best non-fiction books in America for 2002. In November 2008 Olson was honored by his alma mater, Brigham Young University, with its Distinguished Alumni Service Award.