Depends how you work. BTW I would always recommend with the huge amount of images to split a document.
If you embedd images in InDesign it will also become slow but you should only link them.
THe speed depends on what computer you have. Which graphic formats you use (in InDesign is the best to place RGB raster images in PSD, PDF or PDP and vectorimages al AI or PDF (not EPS).).
ANother thing can speed up the application is the use of styles.
In InDesign you can choose between 3 levels of preview quality. One shows only a grey frame, one with low resolution and one with high quality and high resolution. The better the preview the slower the program.
When InDesign crashes it will launch with a saved copy. With the actual versions I had never the problem of a destroyed file. But with older versions I had often problems with recovered files.
But this is all me, and I do A LOT of scrolling back and forth to cross check facts and so on. Having to constantly switch between files would be a huge pain.
I guess it's a matter of work styles, but I'd much prefer to switch around among a batch of open chapters with a simple key combination, as opposed to scrolling back and forth through pages in linear fashion.
How would ID handle a document of this complexity?
With the limited information you've offered, I'd say I have experience with similar documents, (product catalogs/pricelists), that ID handled just fine, and other cases in which seemingly simple files choked it. I can say the same of Quark. No one can answer your question definitively; there are too many variables. Chances are it's not (only) the size and complexity of your document in itself that are causing your problems. There can be any number of hardware or OS issues contributing, to name a couple.
I'm not sure this is relevant, but one reason for using large files in InDesign is to avoid its well-known problems in handling cross-referencing across multiple files. There are commercial add-ons that ease these, and I wouldn't take on a job requiring cross-references without investigating them.