The basic premise of this book is that there is no such thing as a purely economic problem because economics deals with human beings and a world with finite resources. Economic problems cannot be solved using purely economic methods. Material wealth cannot compensate humans for (in Tawney's words) "arrangements which insult their self-respect and impair their freedom," nor can it fix irreparable harm done to the world we need to sustain us. All good points!
That said, this is not well written. This is basically a series of quotes, some several pages long, linked by Pearce's hamhanded* prose. The quotes themselves were part of the problem for me: for any one economics professor or real world example, there are two quotes from Catholic popes or GK Chesterton. To give Pearce some credit, I'm clearly not the target audience for this book. He makes few arguments of his own, but these few are all based entirely on Catholic doctrine, which I don't care about. And his points about economics not counting the true impact and cost of industry, the harm of the the WTO, IMF, and World Bank's neocolonialism, big businesses influencing governments and people instead of the other way round--I already knew all of this, generally with far more nuance and depth than he presented. I assume this book is for the Catholics out there who haven't yet done any research or thought into economics. For everyone else, this isn't useful or, for that matter, all that readable.
*Here's one I just came across: "[Mansholt's Plan] has begotten the desert it deserves. The soul of the soil has been sold for cash, and farmer Faustus is left to reap the bitter harvest."